Thursday, January 18, 2007

Last First Times

A dear friend of mine recently told me that he has "one last fight" in him. I am 100% sure that this is a guy thing. In a very tongue-in-cheek way, he explained to me that the physical act of fighting is something reserved for young men during their formative years. As a grown-up, he realizes that solving problems with fists isn't necessarily the way to go, so he avoids instigating situations that could lead to violence. Even though he is perfectly domesticated (and more or less civilized?), he claims to be saving himself for what he knows will be his last demonstration of physical masculinity. While I disagree with violence in principle, I jokingly encouraged him to choose wisely. I'm sure he'll be discerning, but I can perfectly envision him rising to the occasion in defense of a woman's honor as reason enough for his one last fight. He's that kind of guy...

I woke up this morning thinking about this...thinking: what do I have in me that is waiting for "one last time"? I mused that if I had the magical ability to make wishes come true, I would love to have one last big hug from my grandfather. Or one last successfully happy holiday gathering of my immediate family. For one last time, I would be able to spend a day at the beach with my mother, as we did when I was a child. These things would be very nice.

But, since I am not a magician of circumstance, I began thinking beyond this. Rather than coining the idea with a superficial my list of unattainable or unfulfilled life longings, I began to think of all of the "last times" I have ahead of me in this life. In contrast, what came to mind is this:

At this point in my life, I'm reaching the end of what we all experience as "first times"--first sights, first phone conversations, first kisses, first dates, the very first "I love you", etc., etc., etc. Having experienced these things a few times, I realized that I've been pretty fortunate. Each "first time" may have been an experiment in it's own right, but I wouldn't have traded any of them. If it wasn't for these amazing opportunities for personal growth, and what came of them, I wouldn't be me.

Now that I'm dating again, it hit me the other day that sooner or later, I'm going to find myself on my very last first date. How crazy is this? I would like to think that my stockpile of first date experiences will somehow enable me to intuit whether or not this last first date is truly my last, but I realize, too, that the exciting thing about it is that there really is no way of knowing. The human condition, while wonderful, is full of so many options and choices, and, alas, no crystal ball. However, whether I immediately recognize it or not, sooner or later, that last "first date" is going to become my very last "first kiss". I guess it's inevitable. Unless I restrict myself from all human contact for the next 50 years, I am inevitably going to experience that last, first, completely crazy, body-bursting moment of totally falling in love.

Like my friend, I started to wonder if I'm managing to save myself for all of my last first times. Am I even open to such a thing? Am I capable of flying without fear of consequence or emotional let-down? In this vein, should it even matter? So many people lament their lack of interest in dating and intimacy, because they feel like they can't control their idealism. My hope is that I still have this to give, and that, in my last first time, I will know how to make the most of it by not making the childish mistakes I've made in my past. My feeling is that the past should move us forward, not make us prisoners of long-dead ghosts. In fact, it is through the pleasure and the pain of these experiences that I hope that I've saved enough room in my spirit to love even deeper than I've loved have every date with the person who is "my last" always manage to feel like our first...and procede accordingly.


Anonymous said...

'At this point in my life, I'm reaching the end of what we all experience as "first times"-'

What a gal N, so you are 109 just like me, right? You've already ridden in a biplane, upside down. Rode around in a sub. (On a sub? No names please!) Gone skydiving. In Tibet. Base Jumping. In Indonesia. Hiked NZ gorges, rappelled down nameless Mongolian mountains. Seen your first child off to college, and then married. Suffered your first, 2nd & 3rd cancer scares. Eaten bugs in downtown Mexico city. With a banging chili chocolate sauce. Worshiped in a 1000-800 yo. cathedral. Just to hear how the choir fills it for a week of special services. Composed your first symphony. Filed your first patent. Saved your first life. Played your first real professional gig. Sang your first improv lullaby to your first grandchild, right after inventing better versions of several all too Grimm fables.

No one who's still got any sort of imagination runs out of firsts. They just forget to note them all when they happen. Then reflect that this is generally a good thing too.

Cheers & Good Luck, 'VJ'

El Guapo in DC said...

I've ridden on a sub. Well, it wasn't really a sub... More like an upside down plastic bathtub. Well, not really a bathtub. More like a bucket. It was really nice though.

Anonymous said...

Exactly. There are as many "firsts" as we desire and make happen. And they are all the sweeter for being with "your last" while doing them. Good couple of posts in the last few days. Taking a break from the thesis? :)

Anonymous said...

yeah, great posts this past week, namaste. are you balancing it with the phd?

you find ways to say things that i know i feel inside. thanks for still writing!