Written by Lily Iervasi
Graphic by Hengjia Liu
I have something I need to get off my chest. It has been gnawing at my insides, blistering my organs, making my heart burst.
You were my first true love. I never wanted to lose you.
When we were introduced, I was only a child, and I wanted you straight away. Of course, my mother didn’t approve. They never do, do they? But I saw you everywhere, and everywhere you were, you were with women. Fashionable, happy-go-lucky, tousled hair, just-casually-put-together women. They were so beautiful. I admired them so much. I wanted to be like them, among them, to become them. It seems wrong now, looking back. You weren’t made for a child. But this was only the beginning.
Then I started high school. I was excited to start growing up. Perhaps unexpectedly, you were waiting for me from the very first day. And you stayed with me, through all those years of change and growth. I experienced so much during that time — friendships sailed with and without me, gossip nipped at my heels, and, indeed, my heart was broken and mended more times than I can count. Yet no matter what I weathered, you were steadfast; unwavering, as sure as winter gives way to spring and all is new again. I loved you more and more with each passing day.
Even when I moved overseas, you made sure to stay in touch every chance there was. I finally felt like an adult when I moved away from home, free from familiar names and places and expectations, free to make my own decisions, free to choose my own fate. No one cared that I was with you, and you with me. Every time I saw you, I grew giddy. We danced on bar tops together, got drunk and lost in foreign cities, ran for the last train while the stars of a different hemisphere shone brilliantly above. Moving back was a big transition; still, you were with me. You were my comfort, my safety, my joy.
We hit our hardest period shortly after my return home. I enrolled at a university, lived in college, and found myself surrounded by a new city, new sights, new friends, new trends. My peers at college introduced me to a different kind of lifestyle — more relaxed than I’d ever been with you, loosening up. I started hanging out with different crowds — crowds where you didn’t always feel welcome. I didn’t want to leave you behind, but my new friends sneered at you. They were younger than me, cooler than me, and had somehow accepted me into their fold. But not you. So, I did what I had to, what I thought I must do to fit in. I cut you out of my life. My one greatest regret is that I couldn’t face you.
Time began to speed up. Somehow, days turned into weeks, months began moving faster, and the years fell over each other, racing to get ahead. And, paradoxically slowly, day by day, month by month, we lost touch. Like sand falling through the hourglass, inevitably headed towards the vanishing point.
Perhaps I was just getting older, and moving away from childhood fantasies. Or perhaps I was swayed by what the next generation was saying about you. Their words on how you were stuck in the past and couldn’t keep up slowly began to stick. I turned away from you. You were no longer my love, merely a fleeting memory of a life once lived.
I didn’t last at university. I struggled fitting in, anxiety rumbling behind me like a volcano ready to erupt. A dark cloud descended, and I could not see through it. I crawled back home, forgetting who I was. I began to build myself a new life, piece by piece.
I ran into you the other day. I was at an op-shop, traipsing through aisles half-interested, when I was suddenly face-to-face with you. My heart caught in my throat, spluttering. I faltered over how much I missed you. I got nothing in return. I probably deserved it: after all, it was I who had done the abandoning. So I didn’t take you home with me. I didn’t dwell, even for old time’s sake.
I am in my mid-20s now. No time to be stuck in the past, dreaming of what once I coveted. These rose-tinted glasses are growing dull.
My dear skinny jeans — it is time I bid you farewell.