FIRST LOVE OR FIRST LESSON?
By Bethany Ocansey
I knew I was in trouble the day I caught his eye. I had never seen anyone like him in my life, I was only eighteen and still figuring out how to apply make-up and dress right, well damn I had just moved from the countryside with horses and bicycles to a big city of glitz and glamor. He was older than me and certainly savvier, from the moment we met I didn’t stand a chance, he knew everything I didn’t and would soon become a nightmare. I didn’t want to have sex with him at first – which I’m sure was my gut warning me of imminent danger – so we just dry humped until it got really awkward and uncomfortable. I was just thinking in my head, ‘sex must feel better than this!’ So, there I was, a spring chicken that he easily plucked bit by bit until I was totally naked, and vulnerable.
Everyone assumed we were a couple, but they knew we weren’t together too, they had seen him with other women, observed him during his finest manipulative moments, and likely been victim to his misleading life, so without a care they would talk to me about how awful a human being he was, but it was falling on deaf ears as I was falling for him. I didn’t care what kind of human he allegedly was.
One night we were relaxing with friends, drinks in hands, swaying to the music, when a girl tapped him assertively and attempted to whisper something in his ear. I directed my gaze, so I could see what was going on, and just as I did he grabbed my wrist and pulled me towards her and I panicked, ‘holy shit is he about to ask me to do a threesome with this chick? I mean she was beautiful. Tall, long, brown mousy hair and sparkly green eyes but…’ I braced myself. “Do you see this woman?” He asked her. “This is my love. And if you ever disrespect her again, I will do more than embarrass you.” As her sparkly eyes turned cloudy, my jaw dropped to the floor. How did this man just display this act of love, yet every day I didn’t feel any love at all? Was slapping my ass in front of his friends and saying ‘this is why I’m with her’ endearing? No. Was telling me to go out on my own because I wouldn’t lend him money fun? No. How could I think this was OK and keep wide eyed and bushy tailed!
These loving outbursts were usually ego fueled anyway, like when a guy (that wasn’t him) smacked my ass and before I could turn around and think about slapping him, he was being dragged out the club. Or when I was dancing clumsily on a chair while a friend got a little too close, so he came out of nowhere and hoisted me up, carrying me to the ground.
As much as I loved him, I could feel my heart beginning to break because he seemingly protected me from everyone else, apart from himself.
I would sit alone a lot, looking out of his window, straight at Buckingham Palace, wishing a Prince would come and save me, but I didn’t consider myself a Princess so what hope did I have? Instead my makeshift Prince, drove my beautiful little car around with me in the back and his friends hopping in and out of the front, depending on who he had to meet that day, or what lucrative but likely illegal dealings he had going on. He called my apartment the hideout because you could see far out over the bridge and it was an easy place to move around and meet people in dark alleys and shady cafes. We had an argument once and he stole my credit card and left, I told him the next day I didn’t want to lose him.
One day I was sat in the auditorium trying to listen to my professor, who I’m sure was talking a foreign language. I gasped as tears gushed down my face uncontrollably. My friend pulled me out. This had to stop. But I couldn’t stop it. I looked up to him, worshipped him and clung on to every word he said. But what caused the complete blindness to his actions baffles me, maybe it was simply age and inexperience. I was definitely confused, on board an emotional roller-coaster that felt wonderful one minute and completely shitty the next.
I got off the roller coaster for what felt like years but was only days, when I was startled one morning by the obnoxious sound of my phone. I picked it up, still half asleep. He mumbled that he needed to see me. “Please come to my apartment.” He asked. I didn’t even bat an eyelid, still craving any opportunity to be with him. I dressed quickly and took the long trek through town to get to his place. Outside I rang his bell. Once. Twice. Three times. Then I called and got the voicemail. ‘This is OK’ I thought, he’s probably in the shower. I stood there for what felt like hours, feeling the most pathetic I had ever felt. When I left alone, I swore I wouldn’t talk to him again. But I did.
During our hopeless romance, he definitely lied to me, stole from me and disrespected me but I would still clutch my phone in the hopes he would call. Until one day I came to my senses, as he was coming to his. I thought I didn’t care, the badass I had to be now was over the bullshit, but then I got the phone call that he had been shot and I suddenly felt lost again, struggling not to fall back into his now crippled arms. I went to the hospital anyway and in one breath he thanked me for being there while in another he snapped at me for being around. He wasn’t dying, I could leave. Be that badass. Leave right now.
I left no trace of where I was going. I had moved on, and never wanted to hear from him again. I had lost my first love, but he had lost his too.
Now we live in a world where anyone can find anything, and anyone. And on that day, he found me. As the alert popped up with a name I didn’t know, I disregarded it, and immediately restricted the person, ‘another friend that’s not actually a friend,’ I thought. Then alerts kept coming in. ‘I finally found you.’ ‘How are you my special one.’ ‘Fine!’ I reply. Then it clicked. It was him. The feeling of panic passed pretty quickly, the next thought was, ‘oh shit, hell no!’ ‘Wow,’ came out of my mouth as I typed it, almost without realizing. The dialogue continued a little, but it was mainly him off on a tirade about how much of a mistake he had made and how he was so young and didn’t know any better. He asked if I had forgiven him. I forgave him a long time ago.
I appreciated his apology, his explanations and his now kind spirit that had obviously evolved drastically over the last twenty years, but it will never be enough. There is always the one that got away, and that person was me.
I could see his face again and listen to his stories. I loved him once, I think. But nothing changes the lost time someone spends not realizing how they are harming another.
I often feel that a first love for those of us who don’t make it a lifetime with them, become first lessons, which are magnificent. He definitely set the stage for my show of life.
I wonder everyday if people have been through the same thing I did? Snatched up by an older boy and your first experience of love being so destructive? And now realizing how detrimental it was for your future relationships, or lack thereof as far as I’m concerned. A beautiful but crazy saga that one can never forget. And is always in this now crooked but healing heart.
‘Country Grammar’ by Nelly
Turn it up! I will not let anyone tell me this song doesn’t make them want to get up and dance. I have no idea what Nelly is saying without the lyrics in front of me, but it was a jam that I loved, and one this man was obsessed with, which passed on to me. I’m not mad at that. I remember sharing it on Facebook one day in 2016 and saying… “This song reminds me so much of my first boyfriend…I luuuuuuurved that crazy man. Lol!!” So, on that note, embrace your crazy, but also be kind.