To you who was my first love. To you that I loved so much, without ever having known how to tell you.
It was maybe twenty-five years ago, you were just a little girl and I was just a little boy. We spent a good part of our childhood together, at home and at school. From kindergarten to college entry, you were there right next to me. Only a few houses separated us. And yet, at no time did I know how to tell you….
I was lucky to have you by my side. To see you, all I had to do was cross the street and ring the bell for your huge white gate. Sometimes we would ride our bicycles and go to school by taking the road in the middle of the fields. This memory gives me butterflies in my stomach.
You lived in a big house that looked like a small castle. I remember this huge living room and this large dining room in the middle of which was a solid wooden table that seemed endless to me. I remember that long staircase going up to the first floor. The steps were covered with red cloth, and it was a sign to me that we weren’t set foot anywhere.
Behind the house lay the garden. When we left through the French window, there was the terrace and then this large swimming pool where we spent long afternoons in the sun. We were very lucky to be able to enjoy your pool, even if sometimes wasps would come and join us and we were a little scared.
Your mother used to make us a snack in the kitchen. I have the memory of an elegant and always dressed woman. You took after her your pretty blonde hair and your beautiful blue eyes.
This contrasted with the severe look of your father, a man we rarely saw and who in my memories was rather distant. He had made his fortune selling flowers, and from his second marriage, two small blond heads were born. A bit later, a little brother had arrived in the family. You were the eldest, you, my little golden flower that made my heart capsize.
My sister had been offered the Labyrinth game for her birthday. I used to steal it from her when I came to your house, you loved playing it. We would sit on the floor on the carpet in your room, not very far from your bed. You probably didn’t know it, but my heart was beating very fast at those times.
I guess I was particularly good at making sure that the expression on my face and my gestures didn’t betray what my heart was screaming inside me. It was loud in there, you couldn’t imagine.
But the shy little boy that I was didn’t dare to free his heart, probably for fear of hurting him. I was afraid you wouldn’t want to follow him, so I kept quiet.
I think back to an afternoon when we were playing in your room. I thought to myself:
Come on, buddy, this time it’s time, go for it! Be a man and tell her, tell her how beautiful she is and how much you love her.
And then nothing happened. My heart continued to cry out for its love and I persisted in making sure that it could not be heard. It was incomprehensible.
The years passed and inevitably all this made me sad. Melancholy was winning me over because I couldn’t tell you I love you when I wanted to.
There was this day that I will remember all my life. We were in my garden under the large green portico, just next to the old pear tree that didn’t give much fruit anymore. A children’s paradise with two swings, ladder, rings, and trapeze. Enough to become a great gymnast.
We were enjoying the day when suddenly you looked at me and said something like:
Is it true you’re in love with me?
I remember my reaction very well at that time. The surprise and then the total denial, the flight forward. As you reached out to me, it was impossible for me to open my heart to you.
Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. It’s just for fun!
That’s what I said to you, with a few words. Perhaps you had finally heard the cries of my heart or the friends to whom I had spoken had had their tongues hanging out.
Anyway, I was madly in love with you, and as you handed me a miraculous pole, I found myself totally unable to tell you all my love.
I still wonder today, when we’re both 32, what would have happened if I had the courage to tell you how I really felt about you. Maybe nothing, and then maybe not.
I wish I could have tasted your lips and closed my eyes. I would have loved to slip my fingers into your fine, golden hair. If only I had been stronger, maybe you would have let me in.
You had these little dimples that made your smile unique and charming. Besides, I wasn’t the only one who was sensitive to your charm.
There were other little boys who were not afraid to share their feelings. And unfortunately what was to happen happened. You, my little flower that I loved so much, were about to open your heart to some of my classmates.
During an outing with the school, we joined a leisure base in the Paris region. I remember that boy I didn’t like very much and with whom you seemed to be living a little story. He wore a gold earring in his right ear. I seem to remember seeing you walking around holding hands. My heart had taken a hit.
There were a few others, more or less close friends, I don’t remember much. You, my little blond head, remained inaccessible and my heart kept bringing me back to you. It was not always easy to live with.
You were my lover but you always found yourself in someone else’s arms. I was jealous and I didn’t understand what was going on. I had everything in me but I didn’t have the keys to succeed in freeing myself.
I’m writing all this to you now, but it was a long time ago. I want you to know that I have a very fond memory of you.
The last time we spoke was about fifteen or twenty years ago. You rang the doorbell at the house gate to give me back a game I lent you. We didn’t see each other much at that time, but I remember hoping to see you again. I guess I missed you a lot. The flame that was burning inside me had not yet been put out.
I’m not going to tell you I love you today. It would really make no sense after all these years. And then our lives took different paths, you must be filled with love today. On my side, even if I still have some progress to make, I have learned to free myself more.
Just let me tell you that you are and always will be my first love. The one for whom my heart was ready for anything, even if you didn’t know it.
Just having that thought, I feel the warmth surrounding my heart. I hope yours is safe from the cold and that you are happy today.
Tom Pouce, that’s what you used to call me.