My friend Mari has a theory that we spend our whole lives working to be as open and daring, full of light and possibility as we were when we were 5. The idea is that the more we know, learn, experience the world the more we become filled with doubt shame guilt and shoulds. I’ve always found it to be a curious theory.
Then after a conversation with my roommate I found myself reaching for my younger naive self but in a different way. My roommate and I agreed that we were “most ourselves” in our very first serious relationships. And our resolve behind this was “because we didn’t know any better.” Now, as a caveat I am not suggesting that that relationship was the best or that even that version of me was the best…Personally speaking I was a mess. Spoiled, rigid, shallow, with only a vague idea of how the world worked and no real sense of who I was. But I was fully that with him. My full mess of a self.
I think the reasons first loves are so meaningful is because that sort of freedom is an unforgettable taste. It never really leaves your tongue. I imagine that with all the growth I’ve done in the years since I was 19 and in love with a boy, how much I more of myself I could be with someone. I could show them more of my heart. Share my views of giving gratitude God and my own little take on how the world works. That’s essentially what I am asking the universe for; someone with whom I can be my whole self, whoever she might be that day, that year, that lifetime. It’s the intangible thing I reach for in memories of my first love.
Freedom can’t be caught or captured though. It can’t be bottled or sold, only experienced. As wind under wings and air filling lungs, freedom (and love) is one huge Dare. I dare you to show up. I dare you to be seen. I dare you to say “I love you” first, early, or not at all when it feels wrong. The same way we would jump from the swings into the air, I want to leap into unknown spaces with my partner not knowing how long the wind would hold me before my feet hit the ground. Never considering that sometimes I would fall and land on my hands and knees. Because just like a 5 year old, I’d get up, dust myself off and get right back on, resolving to swing higher this time.