The Story of My First Girlfriend
I met her at day camp. Early in life. I think I was eight. And she would teach me things before I understood them.
I actually held hands with a girl for the first time in second grade. I went to school in Brooklyn Heights and when we went to the park we had to walk with a “buddy.” And hold hands.
As young lemmings did at the time, we all held hands with kids of our own sex. Boys with boys. Girls with girls. No one thought twice about it. Until I did. I just did it. We were friends. So Leila and I walked to the park that day holding hands. As “buddies.”
She wasn’t my first girlfriend.
But something felt different for me. I knew that we were just friends, but holding her hand felt nice. Softer. Even given all the verbal hijinks coming my way at the time, I enjoyed it. While deflecting the laughter.
I’m glad my teacher didn’t discourage it. Or tell me that we shouldn’t do that. And the laughter stopped, for the most part, halfway there. At that point everyone realized we were just walking like everyone else. Hand in hand. On our way to the park.
So we held hands. We didn’t make a baby. Or share chewed gum. We just held hands.
And it prepped me for my first girlfriend. Because I felt something. Not for Leila. For that soft little hand in mine.
My First Crush
It’s hard to remember the exact details of when I first saw her. At camp that day. I have a photographic memory, but I am getting old AF now so some of these memories are reconstructed. But they are real. She was real. And I remember what it felt like when I saw her.
We all had first day jitters. Co-ed day camp was an interesting social experiment. Especially at eight. None of us knew what the hell we were doing. Besides trying to win at foursquare every day.
Tiffany was in my age group and she caught my eye right away. Her blonde hair was adrift in the world. Not unbrushed or unruly, but just careless about what others thought. Especially boys.
We locked eyes early that morning. She smiled. And my tiny little eight-year-old heart melted. It actually felt like the marshmallow in the perfect s’more. Mushy, but still able to participate in an awakening of the senses.
Later in life this moment would be akin to the person you find most attractive in an entire bar full of people, smiling at you directly. But we were only eight. But it still mattered.
My first crush had begun.
Our Burgeoning Relationship
She came up to me. Because I was aimless. And scared. And nervous. She just started talking to me. And I was shy. But enraptured. She was bold. Unafraid.
We may have kicked each other’s shoes that day. I may have put my head down multiple times to avoid her blueish-green eyes putting a laser directly through my heart.
And this continued. Day after day. Foursquare games. Jungle gym climbs. Lunch. We probably shared our lunch. I think to an onlooker, whoever the counselors were who I will never remember, it was really f*cking cute.
This time it was different though. No one was snickering behind our backs or to our face. Maybe because we weren’t holding hands. Maybe because we were all just little kids. Enjoying summer together.
But I can guarantee that my summer was way better than anyone else’s at that point. Because I had stars in my eyes for this girl. And our relationship progressed.
All that means is that we had more fun together every day. We probably sat on the bus together. We pretty much did every activity together. I thought about her when camp ended each day. And I told my mom about her.
When I Tried to Show Off For a Girl (For the First Time)
We were in (or close to) the woods at camp. Somewhere early in our eight-year-old relationship of the century. We were with another kid, a boy. Clearly he didn’t understand the concept of a c*ckblock back then. Neither did I.
Tiffany pointed to a nearby tree and said, “That’s poison ivy.” The other boy shrugged. He was no botanist. Or ivy connoisseur. I didn’t know anything about anything. Especially around her.
She was more of an outdoorsy girl. I played outside in the summer, but it was usually with Matchbox cars. I wasn’t investigating forestry in my spare time. But I wanted to be cool. Or what I thought was cool at the time.
So I said, “That’s not poison ivy.” She was sure it was. And the gamestress that she was was, she proposed a bet. A dare. A folly. Of which I would be the subject.
She had barely offered the competition when I grabbed a leaf and rubbed it all over my arms and legs like the completely hormonally imbalanced jacka** of a young boy I was.
It was poison ivy.
And my mom made me go to camp the next day with pink Calamine lotion all over my whole body. It was one of many early embarrassments with girls, but it was really the first epic one. I was a champion of the late 1970s version of getting publicly pwned.
What did Tiffany do? The legend that she was. She said, “It was poison ivy, huh?” I tried to deflect and reject, but she wasn’t having it. Hearing my excuses of how this coincidence was possible even though I knew that it looked like I was wrong about the poison ivy, she just smirked.
And with that beautiful smirk she told me (without words), “Ok. I’m going to give you this one.”
Tiffany became my first girlfriend (in my head). We were too young to talk about that type of thing, but I felt like we were both on the same page.
Yes, it happened. My mom was a hippie. She went to Woodstock. Allowing me to go to a girl’s house for a sleepover was not even a big deal. Tiffany and I had a sleepover. At her house.
There were white bunk beds. We were near the beach in Amagansett. I have no memory of what her parents looked like in any way. My memory has her and I together and no one else even there.
I don’t remember what we did. I remember her and I being on the beach together. More than once. But I don’t know if it was at that sleepover. The one. I remember us vaguely eating dinner with her parent(s). They probably thought we were so cute.
I can’t lie. We were. Really cute.
And she really was. So cute. Adorable even. And not scary. I didn’t get nervous around her. Maybe we were just friends. But it felt like more. In my young heart. And it looked like more. In her young eyes.
I remember thinking it was cool when her parents left us in her room to go to sleep. In the bunk beds. Alone. They didn’t close the door. At least I don’t think they did. And it was just us.
Tiffany and I. Talking to each other while we fell asleep.
She probably fell asleep first. Because she was just so cool with everything. Nonchalant. I was thinking, for the first time in my life, what it might be like to kiss a girl. As I fell asleep.
How It Ended
I remember nothing after this sleepover. Or that summer. I never saw Tiffany again. I think our parents kept in touch and tried to set up something that following school year, but I’m not really sure. This was almost 40 years ago.
So I don’t know how it ended. But I remember how it felt.
It might be a feeling I am still chasing.
A feeling of innocence between two people. Mutuality. Fun, with no expectations.
Young love. Young like. Life. Pure.
I have a photo of Tiffany and I somewhere. On the beach. She had on a red bathing suit and we were near the edge of the water. I couldn’t find it. But I will. And I will add it when I do.