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  • Writer's picturecocodensmore

"It’s never the one you haven’t met. It’s only the one you can’t forget."

December 10, 2020

I went to the dentist today. I begged for too much Novocain so my mouth hurts. I went to lay down. I had a dream.

I flew to see my first love, Dale. But not Dale that looks like I know he does now, Dale when he was twenty-one. I went to see him because we had talked about spending time together, and in bed together.

I loved having sex with Dale. I loved having sex with Dale more than I’ve ever loved having sex with any other man my entire life. He was my first. He taught me, he encouraged me. He was gentle but he was open. He taught me to be the same. He taught me it was okay to be who I was. He loved me for who I was. I flourished.

I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me he was our age now. I know exactly what he looks like now, we’re connected on social media. He looks older than me. Maybe I thought of him so young because that’s how he lives in my mind, that’s how that time lives inside of me.

I was well aware of what I look like now, the part where I am so very large, and I was so worried what he would think. I was so worried he wouldn’t want me. When we had planned for me to come, he would just smile when I expressed insecurity. Of course he’d want me. Of course it would be fine. He’d hold me just as he had ever held me. He’d make me feel safe and loved just as he ever had.

Checking into the hotel, I saw him, he smiled at me. He smiled big. He worked behind the desk. At a minimum wage job. Like he always did when we were in college. He was wearing shorts and socks. He looked ridiculous. I was beyond myself happy. I was so happy, I was smiling so hard it hurt (which was, of course, the Novocain).

I woke up and started crying. Because that whole part of my life is so far past. It’s been nearly 40 years. I cannot believe how much I grieve for that time in my life. Before I got so old and before I felt so much pain. Before I looked so sad and before I cried so often. When I was young and my whole life was in front of me. A life I knew would be full and happy and incredible. A life which has turned out full of loss and pain. Not all of it. But so much of it.

Mental illness has stolen so much of what was good about me. Some people say they wouldn’t have it any other way, their illness has made them better. And there’s some truth. But I would choose a healthy mind over this without hesitation. This is simply too much too much of the time. I want something different. But I have to work so hard for it. It’s exhausting.

"It’s never the one you haven’t met. It’s only the one you can’t forget."

-Aki Schiltz



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