Connie, Thief of Hearts
Copyright 2012 by
I sat under the tree, laptop resting on its natural habitat, pecking away at the tiny keyboard. I went there a few times a week, usually without an idea. The surroundings, the sprawling rolling hills of green grass that spilled down from my splayed feet seemed fertile for much more than grass. I rarely failed to come up with a story.
The tree trunk was encased in an oddly forgiving bark, my back never having to shift or move much to remove kinks or adjust for scratching. It was a position and an environment that worked for me.
Twenty years ago, I'd written my first love letter right here, by hand, moments after having made love with Connie on a soft checkered blanket under the shade of this impressive oak. We remained naked and she laid her head in my lap and had fallen asleep. I'd leaned over to my backpack and extracted a pad and pen.
It was the easiest thing I had ever written to that point in my life.
I could remember it word for word:
"Connie. My love for you is both inside you and inside me. You have completed me as a young man, here on the eve of my 20th birthday. I haven't told you, but you are my first. If you were to be my last, I would be no less happy. Can a man ever be happier than having a trusting woman lay her head in his lap and go to sleep? Is there a scenario more gratifying to a man? Not this man. I will sit here and write this to you, caress your hair, and when you awake, I hope we can make love again. You have taken a boy to this hill, but you will return with a man. You are MY creator. I will never forget you."
Connie was 25 at the time. She may as well have been 45, since she possessed for me that incredible allure of the older woman. Five years at that age can seem almost generational. Silly, really...but when life is constantly shaping and reshaping, as it does for most in our early 20s, a five-year age difference usually equates to a large variance in experiences which then proves difficult to bridge.
Now, as I wait to turn 40 tomorrow, a woman 35 or 45 would not make me think twice about her age. I've been through the sausage maker's kitchen called life; been churned out in chunks and pieces from our mother's hash grinder and forced to reform ourselves, hopefully into a better, healthier shape. Some do; most don't.
Our war of attrition with life is often defined by how well we lose; by the grace and dignity we hope to somehow retain even through defeat.
I've never seen life on the silver or bronze medal stand. Only on that highest block in the middle. Life wears a gold medal around its neck forever.
Connie left me about a month after initializing me into manhood. She was destined for someone not at all like me. She needed a bad boy. A chaw-chewing, hog-riding, beer- swilling troglodyte; the type who always seemed to grease her interior axles and stoke her ready-to-ignite fire.
I was a thinker. Only a like-minded person would find me interesting.
I knew none of that then, however.
When Connie read my letter, which I showed her that day after we made love a second time, she grinned, gave me a sisterly kiss on the cheek, and silently began to dress. We were about to saddle up our horses when she walked around her mare and cupped my cheeks in her hands, her face inches from mine.
"Alex. Oh, my young Alex. This is what it is, kid. We will have a few more good times, but then we will move on. I will move on. I need to ride with the wind, and it rarely blows the same direction for long. You may love me, and I may even love you, but you are destined for a different world than the one I want to live in. You will find your girl. Just always remember me, your first love. No one can ever replace your first love. That's why they call it 'first'."
I remember nodding innocently.
She was wrong.
There were no more good times. That was the last time I ever saw her. She moved away about a week after that day, never returning my calls.
I later heard she joined a motorcycle gang in the middle of the state and got married. I don't even know if she's still alive.
She took my cherry, broke my heart and left me alone.
And I never stopped loving her. She was right about that.
His first love, the first time a boy has sex with someone he loves, wouldn't it be fair if somehow, some way, someone could tell him that it will never be the same? Ever.
I think that's why she left. She needed to be my first love, and by abandoning me, she would cement her position in my heart for eternity. It was never about me, or us. I often wonder how many more Alex's crossed her landscape.
I'm a writer now. Connie only crosses my mind the three or four times a week I come here. I got married late in my 20s, but it didn't last. I was unfixable after Connie. Thankfully, I only caused minimal damage to Jessica. She has gone on to a happy life with a man who knows how to love her and has borne him three children.
I sometimes tell people I had a heart attack when I was 20. And I don't expand. They simply assume I survived it because I'm still alive.
I am still alive.
On the outside.