This one is hard to tell. Not because it involved painful memories per se, but because there’s not much to tell. Although, those who have heard one half of this yarn would beg to differ. Grandly.
For the longest time, I felt that my “first love” was a girl named Shatieka, who broke my heart on Valentine’s Day during my freshman year of high school. I didn’t date the girl, but my feelings for her were strong to the point that I, to this day, consider Valentine’s Day as the equivalent to Friday the 13th. However, it wasn’t until I met a guy (whose name I will leave private out of respect for him) in college where I truly understood the concept of “first love,” and that Shatieka was just a simple ego bruising for a naïve, young man.
It wasn’t love at first site with My First. I wasn’t looking for a relationship with another man at that particular time, namely because I was still in the closet and didn’t want to have to explain to my friends where I was most of the time. Plus, I didn’t want to put a significant other through that shit as well. Looking back at that feared scenario now, it still came to fruition to some extent, but I digress and am moving ahead of myself. The bottom line was that my feelings for My First were not planned, and surely couldn’t be contained afterwards.
I met this man through Adam4Adam after an embarrassing one-night stand that ended with an even more traumatic walk of shame. I had decided that feeling my way through the infinite forest of darkness known as the Knoxville gay scene was becoming tiresome, troublesome, and borderline tacky, especially after being demanded to leave after being used like a Trojan condom. It was time to exchange the blinders for some common sense and stability within the realm of my sex life. But I didn’t want a boyfriend. I just wanted someone who I could call to scratch the proverbial itch. I hadn’t sorted out my own mental issues and social anxieties yet and refused to bring someone into the midst of that.
Then came My First Love.
Our meeting on A4A was standard. I can’t recall who reached out to whom first, but it was just a simple greeting with pic exchange since both of us were not out. If I can recall correctly, I think I said that I was looking for friends with benefits, or that I was simply looking for friends, but a meeting was set up to just get to know each other. He was just looking for a new friend since he didn’t care about hanging with most of UTK’s student body, which we both belonged to at the time. Our first physical meeting is a story in itself, but I went into it not looking for sex, but conversation. While he gave the façade of wanting the same, the night turned to morning and the next thing I realized was that I was reliving past mistakes by engaging in sex (he started it), which I abruptly ended just as quick as it began. I thought he would be pissed after I grabbed my clothes and left, but I contacted him later that day and he was worried he had done something wrong and had scared me off. Getting that confusion out the way, we started to hang and have sex with no strings attached.
A few weeks went by and I realized that the more he was around, the more I got antsy about his presence, because I wasn’t used to it. I also noticed that the “strings” I wasn’t ready to deal with were beginning to fuse themselves and the lines we drew had started to become hella murky and blurred. He suddenly went home because, as an empath, he could sense that his presence was needed. I didn’t think twice on it initially, but once the absence of his presence began to infest my living space I felt inexplicably odd. Not a bad “odd,” but a sort of perplexing mix of melancholy, yet surprisingly optimistic odd. I was missing him. I was falling for him. Hard.
Something like claiming he had the ability of empathy (which he really does) was one of the many examples of why I fell for him. He dared to be different and was unapologetic about being him, which serendipitously fell into this latent need for some sort of guidance to a path to accept my differences and take ownership over on my part. Also before he left, he and I walked to a local comic book shop in southeast Knoxville and I promised I would have enough money for us to catch a bus back, because he wasn’t feeling the long trek. When it came to board the bus, I spaced out and forgot to save money to pay for his ticket. While I was begging him to take my ticket and let me walk back since I fluked on the promise and he was arguing against that, the bus driver got smart and said something slick. This prompted this guy to prove that he wasn’t just a lot of mouth when it came to getting someone together, which he would tell me constantly he would do, but I had never seen it in action before and sort of didn’t believe it at first. Well, he made a believer out of me that day and the bus driver, who quickly apologized to he for us holding up HIS route!!! In the end, he got off the bus and told me he would meet me back at my apartment. The bus got halfway down the street before I told the driver to stop and let me off. If it had of been anyone else I would’ve just met them back at the apartment.
But not this guy.
Once I got off the bus, I RAN all the way back to where he was still walking. He hadn’t even made a mile into the trek when I caught up with him. He always lumbered with swag, and didn’t power walk, which was a huge turn on to me. When he saw me running up to him he stopped and could only shake his head. “Why did you get off the bus, Mark?” he asked with a slight hint of playful disdain.
“Because I wasn’t letting you walk back alone and I was the one who drug you down here in the first place. What type of friend would I be?” I responded.
“You never cease to amaze me” was his only response. It wasn’t romance movie magical, but the entire ordeal planted a seed that bloomed within my heart. I won’t go into sordid details about how the “relationship” ended up. But that was the story of my first love.
As for my first kiss? It was sloppy and not what I would dub as “favorably memorable.”
-Written By: Mark Estes
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