My First Love

by Martha Jette
(Hamilton, Ontario)

When you're young and in love, the whole world… I still love that song. It reminds me of Ronnie, with his full head of shiny blond curls and bright blue eyes. (Sigh)
It was the summer of 63' and my whole world revolved around this young fellow. As my parents finished loading the last few items into the big Pontiac, I couldn't wait to get going. My heart was leaping with anticipation. I had turned 14 and this summer would be the best ever.

It took 2 hours to drive north to our cottage on Lake Simcoe – a place where love had bloomed for the very first time. His name was Ronnie and I saw him out on the lake, while driving my five horsepower aluminum boat. That full head of shiny blond curls and bright blue eyes. His slim body thrusting forward as he skillfully drove his larger boat around the cove. We never spoke – just a passing glance - as our boats went in opposite direction. I watched him eventually dock at a cottage not too far from ours.
Well, I just had to do it. My young heart was aflutter at the thought of him. I returned to our dock and decided to take a walk in the direction I had seen him. About 10 minutes later, I spotted him just outside their little white cottage.
"He's so beautiful," I thought. "I wonder if I'll eventually get to meet him – talk to him – get to know him?"
That summer proved mostly uneventful, but my dreams were filled with his image – imagining. Now, here I was returning to our log cabin, full of hope that things would be different this time. Over that year, I had really blossomed and even at 14, had come into my own as a female, if you know what I mean. The long drive up north left me plenty of time to ponder what the future held.
With great excitement, I practically leapt from the car and ran into the cottage. I had to change and take a walk. Ronnie must be up here – I'm sure of it! I was not disappointed. In fact, I didn't have to take that walk. From the deck, I could see him across the lake, up on the front lawn of their cottage. Even so far away, I felt tepid at the thought of his blond curls and tanned frame. I wanted to holler across the expanse, but being so shy, it just wasn't an option. I knew Ronnie had a sister – Linda, so I decided my mission would be to get closer to him by befriending the girl.
Linda turned out to be quite nice and we spent many days on the water, swimming and tanning on the beach. Once in awhile, Ronnie showed up to remind her dinner was ready or for some other insignificant reason. Every time he did, I felt hotter than the August sunshine, anticipating each playful glance.
That year for the first time, a building that had remained vacant suddenly came to life. It had been turned into a music hall, with a big dance floor and snack bar. Linda found out about it, so we decided to get fixed up real pretty and take a walk over. Inside, the music of the Everly Brothers blasted: "Never felt like this, until I kissed ya, uh ha." After grabbing a candy bar from the counter, I sat down on one of the long benches against the wall. There were a number of kids there that I didn't know, but my eyes only longed to see Ronnie.
Within minutes, his head popped up from behind the counter. Apparently, he had been hired to help out. Naturally, I had to get his attention, so I shuffled over and asked him what there was to drink. Finally, we got to talking – really talking. How did I like the place? Did I like the music? Would I like to dance later? I was ecstatic! About half an hour later, he approached me on the bench, took my hand and led me to the dance floor. "So In Love" blared from the speakers and as he whirled me around, I knew I was completely smitten.

A few more dances followed that one and too soon, it was closing time. I'd never been out that late before – it was 11 p.m. As I was leaving, Ronnie moved up behind me and asked if he could walk me home. YES! Following the dirt road to the cottage, Ronnie held my hand – my very first time! When we reached my doorstep, he turned to me, gently touched my shoulders and leaned in for a kiss. My head was on a merry-go-round and my heart was pumping double time – not, make that triple!
Slowly, we moved slightly apart and he said, "That wasn't too bad, but let's do it right this time."
I'm sure I must have been beat red, but he ignored it and moved in for a second try. It was wonderful! Obviously, he thought so too, as his blue eyes seemed to display a helpless, puppy dog look.
"Good night, Ronnie," I said softly as I opened the porch door.
"Now it's official," I thought as I climbed into bed. "I love him!"
For the rest of that summer, Ronnie and I did everything together – well, not everything. We were only 14 after all. Kissing is as far as it ever went, but that was more than enough. We went boating, swimming, sun bathing and walking – often holding hands. This August affair put me in heaven – a loving, warm and sensuous place I'd never known before.
As with all good things, the end of summer meant my return to Hamilton and his return to Toronto, but we promised each other we'd stay in touch. Well, you know how that goes. I started high school that September. Eventually, school, other young fellows and taking care of mom, who had cancer, filled my world. But Ronnie was always in the back of my mind. How could I ever forget my first love?
The following summer, I didn't accompany my parents to the cottage. I had a summer job that kept me home. I wondered if Ronnie was doing the same and as more time passed in between our summer of love, the further away he seemed.
Then one night, I had a dream. I was walking down that dirt road and Ronnie was up ahead of me. I called to him and tried to get his attention, but he just kept walking. The next night, I had the exact same dream. Again, he never acknowledged me and kept on walking. The third night, the dream returned. There he was up the road with me frantically calling his name. This time, he turned and looked at me – his face sallow and tragic.
For several weeks, I tried to figure out what those dreams meant. There must be a reason, right?
I was 19 when I heard the news. Ronnie was driving up north, had crossed a railway track and was killed instantly by a train. I couldn't believe it. No wonder he looked so sad. Then I knew, he and I were not meant to be.
Today, I still hold fond memories of that sweet summer love. A young girl never forgets the first time her heart stirs and wakens to the melodious and gentle rhythm of romance. I still dream of Ronnie once in awhile too, but he's happy now – I can feel it.

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