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The first time I met her, we were both children. I have vague memories of her in elementary school, a sheepish looking child with wild brown hair and a timid demeanor. The first time I met her and it meant something, I was a thousand miles away. My family had decided to pack up our northern-American family and move us to Texas. It was a decision that would ultimately fail; a year from our moving date we were back to our northern town, but when I met her I did not know I'd ever be coming back.
The large Texan city was nothing like the eerily small town I'd grown up in, and when she messaged me on Facebook for the first time I suppose that I was feeling a little homesick. It was nothing much for a first message, a little rant about a little indie band she'd found that she thought I might like. In truth, I thought the band was terrible; but her freckle dotted cheeks and brilliant blue eyes left me at a loss. So I did was any lonely, reasonable teenage girl would do. I lied. (It wasn't until later, when we were at a concert for the band, that this lie fell apart as she confided in me she never liked them either and that I had wasted my money on the tickets.)
The band turned into a jumping off point, and I had a feeling that was what she meant for it to do. Within a week we were talking almost constantly, about whatever happened to be on our minds at the time. I told her about the big-city drama and she informed me of the lives of people I left behind in the move. She was, for the longest, my only real connection to home.
That was, until I moved back.
During my time in Texas, I often wondered about whether I really enjoyed her company or if I just missed the friends who I no longer had a connection with. Once I returned home I realized with no small amount of relief that even there I still found myself lost in everything about her. Everything from the hands-on-hip scowls she gave her disruptive siblings to the softness her smile got when she spoke of things she truly enjoyed. By then, I already realized I was in love with her. Helplessly so. I'd known for a while about my bisexuality, I'd already even gone through the exhausting efforts of coming out to my family, so the surprise was minimal. Somehow from the moment I met her for real, I'd known she was someone I was meant to fall in love with.
When I asked her out, it was a scene from a romance movie. It was a little after midnight on the night of some sort of school dance. We'd decided to ditch it, instead watching a marathon of our favorite movies, and once the last one had dwindled from the screen I'd asked her to come to her tree-house with me, too afraid to ask in a house full of people. She'd complied, warily. It was December after all, and the snow had been steadily falling for an hour now. By the time we reached the safety of her tree-house, her cheeks were red from the cold and there were snowflakes in her eyelashes. She looked more beautiful than I had the words to describe back then, and even now my mind draws a blank when the nostalgic part of me thinks back to that night. I told her about how I felt, about how I would love nothing more than to call her my own. Her smile gave me my answer moments before our first kiss did. Looking back now, that kiss still remains as a milestone in my life.
By the time June 26th, 2015 had rolled around, we'd been dating for more than a year. When the announcement was made that gay weddings were legalized, I'd told her that we would get married one day. It wasn't uncommon of me to say, as I'm sure it's not uncommon for a lot of teenagers to say. Parents call it childish fantasy, or sometimes puppy love. I knew that we were young, but what I knew more than that was that I loved her, and I couldn't see any reason why I would ever stop. Like every other time I made that promise, she'd smiled back and told me she couldn't wait. In the moment, it didn't matter if the wedding were ever to come. We were in love, and that was enough.
I could tell you the story of how I lost my first love, about the moments when love stopped being enough, but something about those words don't feel right in this writing. This is not that story. This story is about the girl who taught me more than most people ever will. A girl who will forever hold a piece of me, as I do her.
So instead I will end it by saying I saw her again recently. It shouldn't have surprised me with how small our town is; but I guess I just never thought about that once we were apart. Her once wild brown hair is now blue, tied up in a ponytail that dances along the back of her neck. When we met eyes, I knew she'd changed a lot since I last saw her. I couldn't be upset about it, I did too after all. But she smiled that same smile I fell in love with, and something tells me she's doing alright.