Dear First Love,
We were six. You made me a Valentine's pillow stuffed with a pair of your mom's pantyhose, complete with a medical gauze bow. I still get teary thinking of this gift you made me, from your heart. The pride and pure innocence that permeated your being, when you gave it to me.
I was 14, you were 16. You stared at me intensely across the parked cars we were leaning upon, with the surety and cockiness that only a 16 year old boy can pull off. We stuck it out longer than we should have, perhaps because you were my first, or perhaps we were both afraid of being alone. It was a rough four years, but I am wiser and better because of you. And I like to think the same might be true for you.
I was 20, you were younger. You were all about the chase. I relished in being desired by you. As soon as I told myself you would keep my heart safe, you shattered it...into a million pieces, with no remorse. I spent a lot of time alone after you left. I slowly picked up the shards of my broken heart and glued them back together, piece by piece. You showed me that I needed to love myself, you taught me to never settle for someone who didn't cherish and love me back.
We met when I was 20. I could feel the heat of your gaze from across the room, but you were with someone, and so was I. You found me again, with my shattered heart, when I was 22. I couldn't come to you. I wasn't ready. I knew it would move fast between us and I had to heal my brokenness first. You waited, patiently, over a year. Then at 23, I was ready. It's been 10 years, two children, and countless ups and downs. You have been steadfast and strong. You carry my heart, you cherish it, and you tend to it, in such a way that makes it flourish.
All the other boys were just a means to get to you, my grand prize, the truest and purest love of my life. Not one from a fairy tale but the grit, the commitment, and the perseverance that builds the foundation brick, by brick, by brick. Together. Tending and nurturing, together.