Like Being in Love for the First Time

Ali Neill
4 min readOct 15, 2020

As I listen to “First Time” by Lifehouse, I can’t help but write about what’s on my mind. It definitely is an appropriate song for what I’ve been feeling today.

A fortnight ago, I had a dream about my first ex. My first love. My most innocent of relationships but also the most romantic. To be honest, I’ve dreamed of him from time to time. Strange dreams where he (let’s call him A) is more of an ex-husband than an ex-lover. And there often comes a time, in these dreams, where I don’t know why I left him and I feel so foolish. But then there’s also my actual husband, only I’ve also been with and left him too. They’re both my husbands, but what isn’t clear is: who is the first one? Who is the current one? Which one did I leave for the other? And which one am I regretting more?

The dream I had this time included more details about A. In it, he had a son (of about 2 or 3) and an American (ex)wife. He was happy and he lived in a big house by the water. There was also another young, blonde girl named Katia… It felt nice to “see” him again. It was intense. I awoke and wanted to go back to the dream, with a certain eagerness, or breathlessness (where all you seem to do is sigh).

Even now, I have more to sigh than to say about him. So, I decided to write to him. He disappeared from most social media (yet again) when I got married, but his LinkedIn account was still online. For more than 2 years now, I haven’t heard a word from him. That’s not to say we had long conversations at anytime over the last 10 years. We didn’t. There would be long silences, where I had all but forgotten him and all of a sudden, I’d get a message, or someone would contact me saying, “A wants to get in touch. All he does is talk about you”. So I’d write and ask how he is. He’d write back (usually in another language) and talk to me as if nothing had changed. As if he were still… As if I were still…(sigh).

We were in the same city once and even now, I can’t walk through certain suburbs without feeling his presence. But he left quite abruptly when I pulled away from the relationship. More than a year went by before we were physically in the same place again. It didn’t last long, I went home and ultimately broke up with him out of doubt and fear. That’s the first time he deleted his social media (as if that was his way of deleting himself).

Another year, back in the old city, and I wrote to say I was cruel and foolish… And sorry. Since then, as I said, there have been a handful of messages one year, nothing the next, a couple of messages after that and then more silence.

I was actually quite surprised by my last message to him, 3 years ago, where I somewhat angrily asked him to actually pursue a relationship with me or leave me alone:

“I never know, when you stop answering, if you’ll ever e-mail again, and I assume you are never going to come to visit. I don’t get you, A. I don’t know if you just want to idealize the past and are afraid to actually see who I’ve become, or if you are more afraid of me seeing you. A, you are by far the best boyfriend I ever had. You are charming and nice and romantic and I just won’t believe you can’t find someone to love. I can’t believe you haven’t had a number of girlfriends over the years. And if I do believe that you only loved me, then I can’t accept that you won’t come to me. We get one life. And I’m not sure what you want. You have alway been and will alway be someone I care about, which is why I want you to be happy. And I just don’t know if writing to me is going to make you happy. I only know the version of you from years ago, and you only know that version of me… But I don’t think you have changed enough for me to stop wanting the best for you”.

So here I was writing again, after that message, to say “I thought of you” and “how are you?”. Should I have been deterred by what the me from 3 years ago had written? Regardless, I wrote and I closed the computer and I left it more like a message on a blog than an e-mail expecting a response.

It’s funny how much I remember of him. So loving, so romantic. I remember our first kiss, which tasted like peaches. And all the other kisses… which also tasted like peaches. I remember him cooking in the kitchen and singing songs I didn’t understand. He would tremble sometimes when we were together (I made him nervous) and he’d wait for me after school to walk me home. I remember flowers and fancy chocolate for no particular occasion. The funny thing we couldn’t eat them because he was allergic to chocolate and I to nuts. And then there were the thoughtful presents, like an umbrella (to embrace under the rain) and my favourite book (to show he listened when I talked).

“Feeling alive all over again. Being in love for the first time.”