First Love

By , Toronto, Canada
Sometimes I wish I could just let all my memories of Cal drift away and sink into the abyss. I wish for a chance with oblivion, a chance to start fresh. Other times I long to relive memories that I cherish, or rather live in them forever. However, life is not so easy. There’s no starting fresh, or going back, just going forward.
What I remember of Cal is bittersweet. I knew him for a very short time, and I’d do anything to have been given more time with him. Some things just aren’t meant to be though. The memories I do have of him are closely guarded, I guess I’m afraid that if I share too much, I might lose some of him.
We met in the summer of ’98, at summer camp. I was only 16, going on 17 and he was 15 going on 16. He was your typical beach boy: tall, athletic and handsome. We were worlds apart. It’s hard to understand what drew two such different people together, but somehow it happened. Somehow he managed to walk into my life.
Young enough to still be campers, but old enough to know the ins and outs of camp, kids our age pretty much ran things. At least, we liked to imagine we did. Although I suspect our counselors had more control than we thought, it’s nice to think we were on top. In any case, we had our fun.
Camp for me was always an escape. It was the one place where someone as nerdy as me could hang with the cool kids. Looking back I am both thankful for it, yet also I am not. If I had stayed leagues below Cal’s crowd, we’d have never met and I wouldn’t have become depressed. If he’d thought I was a geek, like he would have in any other world, we’d never have even been friends. However, camp is magical, it brings out in us what others seldom see. In me Cal ended up seeing something wonderful.
I remember the day we first met quite vividly because I’ve replayed it in my head so many times. Although time has made certain details foggy, for the most part I remember it like it was yesterday.
He was playing basketball with his friends and a couple counselors. It was a beautiful day, all sun and clear skies. The sort of day you just had to be outside for. Of course, I wasn’t all that into sports so me and some of the girls were making bracelets in the foot ball field. I suppose it was destiny that the basketball court be located so close to the field, destiny that the basketball would come and hit me in the head and knocked me out.
When I came to a few seconds later, Cal was there by my side along with a concerned counselor named Jules. I wasn’t entirely sure what had happened, but a moment later my friend Jenna burst out into laughter. “Only you,” she told me. “Only you.”
She was of course referring to the fact that I had a habit of being hit by basketballs, footballs, you name it. I guess it was sort of funny, if only for the fact that I wasn’t hurt. In any case, Cal came over to me to apologize.
Being 16, the moment I saw him I was infatuated. He was everything that any girl could ever want, and he was talking to me. Albeit, it was because he knocked me unconscious, but he was still talking to me - a nerd. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to hit anyone, I just got so mad and I through the ball really hard and-
“It’s cool!” I chirped in. I didn’t want this cute boy to think I was upset with him, quite the contrary.
Anyway, as luck would have it, he took an interest in me. We started talking and I found we had things in common, despite our obvious differences. He loved eating the chocolate part of a reese cup prior to the peanut butter, just like me. I loved Data from startrek and Cal just loved Startrek. They were the kind of things that only kids would think meant anything. Then again, we were just kids.
I knew he was younger, but I didn’t care. He was the first boy I ever could talk to aside from my dad, and that was all that mattered.
One night he asked me to sneak away from my cabin and come to the basketball court. I was thrilled that he had asked, and I of course obliged. To me it was like being asked on a date and it took all my will power not to get dressed up for it.
Sneaking out wasn’t too difficult, I just waited for my counselors to leave and then I followed suit. As I walked there I grew increasingly excited. I was certain that Cal was going to profess his undying love for me, despite our having known each other all of one week. And you know what? When I got there I wasn’t disappointed.
He’d brought his sleeping bag for us to lie on, so we could star gaze. Then the hard part. We stared at each other for a while, neither of us deciding to lie down. I was waiting for him to say something, though I wasn’t sure what. Finally he started fiddling with his hands, and his face turned bright red. I asked him what was wrong, he replied, “Nothing, you’re just really cute.” Suddenly I felt as if I were melting, like nothing in the world could compare to what I was feeling. If I could have lived in that moment forever, I surely would have.
We lay down and we talked for hours, staring at each other instead of the stars. He told me I was the coolest girl he’d ever met, and that he wanted to stay at camp forever and be with me. It made me so damn happy, but I knew that it would be short-lived. He lived in a different town from me, and somehow I knew that when we left camp we would never see each other again.
When it was time to say goodnight, he kissed me. Every night after that, we did the same thing, only ever kissing each other goodnight. It was wonderful in it’s purity, it really was.
The day we said goodbye he told me never to forget him, which is kind of like some big cosmic joke. About a week later he died in a car crash. Although we’d known each such a short time, it tore me apart. For weeks I wouldn’t eat a thing, and I started losing weight rapidly. My parents took me to a psychiatrist, but it was a long time before it did any good. I was just too distraught, too caught up in my own misery.
I was certain I’d never find anyone again. In my mind it was only at camp that I was anyone worth getting to know. The real world was too harsh for a nerd like me, in real life someone like Cal would never even notice me. And I knew I could never return to camp, there were too many memories of him there.
Of course, I did find someone else eventually, in fact I found many other people. However, it took a long time for me to move on. I didn’t date anyone for an entire year after Cal passed away, which at 16 years old is a very long time. Nevertheless, I was young and I healed.
I’ve grown up a lot since I knew him, and I’m no longer the little girl who could fall in love after one week. I’m still grateful I knew him though, if we hadn’t met I might never have thought I was worth getting to know. At least he taught me that much.
It’s been years since I knew him, but he still haunts me. It's like I said already, some days I wish I could forget him, and some days I wish we could have lived at camp forever.





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