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How Soon Is Now? – Heartfelt Memories of My First True Love

How Soon Is Now? – Heartfelt Memories of My First True Love
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Photo: Wave Hill Lily Pond


“There’s a club if you’d like to go

You could meet somebody who really loves you

So you go and you stand on your own

And you leave on your own

And you go home and you cry

And you want to die

When you say it’s gonna happen ‘now’

Well when exactly do you mean?

See I’ve already waited too long

And all my hope is gone”

Pretty dark lyrics, wouldn’t you agree? But in my defense, I was 25 years old at the time I was listening to them. And ironically, those lyrics did not ring true on one hot summer evening in Philadelphia in 1986.

I was headed to one of my favorite haunts called Revival, a popular after-hours dance club with a neoclassical facade. Located in Olde City, it was the place to be after all the other clubs had closed for the evening. They even had uni-sex bathrooms!

My friends and I were dancing to “How Soon is Now” by The Smiths, when I glanced over and saw an adorable 20-something boy with dark twinkling eyes and blondish hair. Our eyes locked. The next thing I knew, he and I were dancing the night away under the flashing strobe lights.

He offered to drive me home. In those days, I was a lot more trusting and carefree, so I popped into his car and off we drove to my apartment. We kissed goodnight at the front door of my apartment building and I could feel the surge of electricity going through my body. Afterwards, he drove off into the night, down the dark streets.

The next day, I was on Cloud Nine. I feared though, that I would never hear from that cute boy again. Did I remember to give him my phone number?

On the very next evening however, my rotary phone rang and it was him! He asked me to go to the bottom of my apartment steps (I was living in a 3rd floor walkup at the time). Filled with intrigue as I walked down those steps, I noticed a yellow envelope next to a single long-stemmed red rose.

Inside the envelope, there was a handwritten note from Will (that was his name) in which he confessed that he was much younger than I, but that ‘age is just a number’. He admitted that he too found our first kiss to be electrifying.

I was hooked!

We chatted again the following evening and agreed to meet for a date. A few nights later, I found myself in Will’s car again, this time listening to the soundtrack from The Big Chill. He told me I reminded him of Mary Kay Place.

The destination was a surprise. We ended up driving to West River Drive which for those of you not in the know, is a beautiful location along the Schuylkill River aligned with trees and bike paths. The famous boathouses from Boathouse Row were illuminated that night along the water’s edge.

He asked me to wait in the car while he unloaded some things from the trunk. He returned with a blanket from Mexico, a cassette player (remember those?), a bottle of Freixenet champagne and 2 plastic cups. It was truly one of the most romantic dates I had ever been on.

We fell into a whirlwind romance over the next few weeks.

Even though there was a difference in our ages (he was 7 years younger than me), I was having the time of my life. One night, he made pasta and I remember how he threw it at my kitchen wall to see if it would stick. I had never seen anyone do that before. On another night, we sat on my living room floor eating Chinese food out of the containers. And you know what? It was magical.

We went to movies together – Harold and Maude – how fitting, and afterwards he literally carried me over a puddle from the rain. A few days later, a dozen red roses were delivered to me at work.

Was I dreaming?

He left me romantic messages on my voicemail machine. One in particular was a song by the band Yaz – Upstairs at Eric’s -”Only You”

“Looking from a window above, it’s like a story of love

Can you hear me?

Came back only yesterday, I’m moving farther away

Want you near me

All I needed was the love you gave

All I needed for another day

And all I ever knew

Only you”

I would soon discover how prophetic those lyrics would be.

Like all good things, I knew this summer fling would eventually come to an end as reality was starting to set in. Will and I were in different places in our lives – he would be starting college in a few days; I was working at a new job in healthcare. We enjoyed a romantic dinner our last night together and said our goodbyes.

I awoke the next day and felt a dark cloud over my head. I knew it had only been a summer fling, but this boy from Revival had really gotten deep into my heart and soul. I had never experienced that type of love before and I was heartbroken.

I arrived home from work later that evening, only to find another one of his yellow envelopes taped up to my mailbox. Inside the envelope, I found a beautiful letter and also some poems he had written for me. I cried when I read them and for many weeks thereafter.

On the Fall Break of his freshman year, he returned to visit me. When I opened the door, he was hiding behind a beautiful bouquet of purple and white dahlias. He looked so adorable in his torn jeans, white tee shirt and leather jacket.

But a few months later, I got a call from him asking if he could come over. I figured the news wasn’t good.

As it turned out, he had met someone at college and he wanted to let me know in person. I still remember his friend waiting for him in a car parked outside my apartment building. I was listening to “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” by Traffic on my stereo. I would never be able to listen to that song again without that memory attached. And I always think of him when the dahlias make an appearance every Fall, stored in buckets outside the bodega on my street.

I still have all his letters and poems tucked away in a box in my closet. I admit, every few years, I open the box and relive those memories and get in a good cry. I often wondered whatever happened to that boy who would be forever etched in my heart. They say you never forget your first real love and I guess I never did.

That is, until I found Will on Facebook. After reconnecting and reminiscing, we both agreed that the love, memories and friendship from that special summer of 1986 will always hold a special place in our hearts and minds. Our personal journeys have taken us in different directions again, but we will always remain connected to one another.

Do you remember your first love? We’re romantics at heart so please share your love stories with us. As for me, unlike what The Smiths did sing back then, my hope is not gone as I remain optimistic about my future romantic possibilities.

Would you like to be my next dance partner?





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