However, sometimes love stories that flash heat and excitement in the blink of an eye go to hell in a handbasket that fast, too. Such was the case of the guy I loved first and me. And it was messy. My heart was broken. Shattered. I wanted to...well, not die, but I wanted it to be all right again. To feel all that heat and sparkle and anticipation. Grow old together? I didn't even get to be 19!
His buddy had been drafted into the army and was going to be leaving soon. We'd become friends by that time. Did I want to go out?
Sure. Why not? Life as I knew it was over anyway.
He left in July. Came home in December for leave before shipping out to Vietnam. We saw each other almost every day. By the time he left, we were in pretty serious like. He proposed and I said No. I was still carrying a torch for the first guy, too.
There's a lot more to it, but it's not just my story to tell, so I'll stop it there. Except that when he came home 14 months later, I asked him to marry me because I was afraid he wouldn't ask again.
He said Yes.
We have nothing in common. Through our married life, we have been at different times labor and management, morning and night, liberal and conservative (that part changed), Protestant and Catholic, country and city, talkative and quiet (and vice versa), writing and music, clumsy and athletic, cat person and no-pets-preferred. I like country roads, he prefers interstates, I could travel once a month forever, he could go forever and never travel again. His favorite color is white. Yes, white. My favorite color is all the others.
But this is where you get to the Gems' theme of the month, the whole "lucky in love" thing. In May, we will have been disagreeing about everything for 50 years. I think it would have been more peaceful if we'd had more in common--you accumulate a lot of emotional scar tissue in a long marriage to someone who's wrong about virtually everything 😄--but it wouldn't have been more fun. We didn't get married because we thought alike; we got married because we loved each other.
We need a better term for Happily Ever After, don't we? So many of the Ever After days are sad, angry, or dreary. There are door-slammers, suitcase-packers, and don't-talk-to-me periods among the waking hours. There are times of intense loneliness and times you'd sell your soul for just a few days alone.
But I hardly ever think about the first guy I loved, whereas I start and end every day with his friend. We've said "I love you" every day for 50 years. And done our best to show it. (Sometimes "our best" sucks. Just sayin'.) Lucky, yeah, but luck in love needs to be intentional, doesn't it?
First love was fun. Exciting. That flash of heat. Last love, though--it's just the luckiest thing there is.