My first time wasn’t special. My mother always told me she wished it would have been with someone I loved. I wasn’t in love with him then, but I did, later. I lost what was left of my virginity on the couch in my parents’ living room while everyone slept upstairs and our drunk bodies fumbled around in the dark. He knew what he was doing. He was three years older and had stories of groupies and former lovers from the time he was in a popular band in his home country of Australia. It didn’t hurt when he slid inside me and I didn’t bleed.
What they don’t tell you about losing your virginity is that you might actually enjoy your first time. It doesn’t always hurt and you don’t have to be in love. You don’t have to be married. You won’t feel guilty about it the next morning. In fact, you’ll probably do it again in the morning. You could just be drunk with one of your best friends visiting from 8,000 miles away.
We’d known each other for five years before we hooked up. Because of the distance, we’d only met up once before in Chicago and had both regretted not doing anything then. I still remember his text telling me he wished he’d kissed me when he had the chance. Three years later, he had another chance and we didn’t hesitate. He asked me one night, as we tried to keep quiet in my bedroom, how my previous boyfriend and I had managed to hook up with my family sleeping in the other rooms. I went on about him having his own apartment and changed the subject. I didn’t have the heart tell him he’d taken my virginity on the sofa of my parents house, ten hours after he stepped off a plane. Maybe one day. But not that night.
We liked each other. That was clear. We got along all too well and had similar personalities. We had the same ideals and dreams. We never ran out of things to say and sang along to the same music. When there was silence, not that it was often, it was comfortable. In the short time he stayed with me, I gave him the grand tour of Oregon and Washington. He held my hand as I drove us to the beach or into the city and he’d kiss me as we wandered around and played tourist. In Seattle, an older couple gave us their passes to get into the Space Needle as we held each other in line to purchase tickets. They liked us there together in that moment. I liked us there together in that moment.
Someone always wants more, though. You can only make love and talk late into the night for so long until someone starts developing feelings. That someone was me. There was nothing not to love about him. He was a kind and gentle soul who was too optimistic. He saw the world with the same sense of unwarranted wonder as I did. He was never happier than when he was traveling and neither was I. We were ideal for one another. We both believed that there was so much of this world to see and so many new people to meet that it seemed insane some people would want to stay in the same place forever. We were both hopelessly broke, but we never let it hinder us from doing what we loved, from doing what we believed in.
There was one thing we differed on that I could never tell him and that was the idea of love. He thought himself a drifter and that’s what he’d never love me – or let himself love me. He had it set in his mind that he was meant to roam. He was meant to wander the world. I could not, nor could any woman, hold him back. He was set in his ways and I pretended to be set in mine, as much as I loved him.
I confused him. I was an outlier and an obstacle he never wanted in his path. I visited him in Melbourne six weeks after he left me. We were drunk at a bar when we told that if he lived in Portland, that if he was a different person, we could work. Perhaps if this was a different life and 8,000 miles of ocean didn’t separate us, we would be together. He was reluctant to tell me at first.
“You’re so cute” he whispered into my ear before taking a drag of his cigarette, “you’re so, so cute.” He kissed me then in front of the twenty or so people in the smoking area and I smiled against his lips.
“If I lived in Portland…fuck. No, I’m not doing this.”
“No, you’re a girl, you’ll make it…you’ll treat it…”
“I won’t remember any of this in the morning,” I lied to him, interrupting his spiel, and kissing him gently.
“If I lived in Portland, if I was a different person…
You’re so cute…
We’d get along so well…” I kissed him again and tried to ignore the aching in my heart.
“When we were at dinner tonight and you were talking to my mum, you smiled, and…oh God…it was so cute…I couldn’t stop staring…you’re so cute.”
He kissed me a lot that night. He kissed me over tables and in the backeeats of taxis. He pushed me against a wall and our tongues tangled in knots. We kissed as he drove us to the only 24 hours kebab shop in the city.
The next afternoon I made fun of him telling me he was cute so much over the course of the evening. He explained that his drunk brain decided it needed to tell me and he had to oblige. I didn’t mention that his drunk brain also decided he needed to tell me he wanted to be with me, that he might love me, but the idea of love and the mushy romance that went along with it was deplorable to him.
But I believe he loved me then as much as he was unwilling to admit, because loving me was not part of his dream, of his vision of how his life was supposed to go. He was too stubborn. He was a musician and young and the entire world was spread out at his feet. I would ruin everything he had created for himself. I would wreck the life he dreamed of. It was impossible, in his mind, for me to coexist with the life he wanted.
He told me once when he was sober that he thought about what would happen if we lived closer – if we weren’t separated by a massive ocean – and I didn’t say anything because I was scared I’d ruin it. He told me we got along so well. That it was so strange to him to want to hold my hand, to want to be with me, that he wondered what it’d be like.
When he was drunk he had warned me he didn’t want to tell me anything because I was a girl. Because it might ruin things, or my feelings would ruin things, or I’d get sad. But it was too late. I was already sad. He was already breaking my heart. I didn’t bleed as he made love to me in the living room of my parents’ house. I bled that night, though.
I am still bleeding.