Stretching out my legs in the sand with the afternoon sun shining down on me I could feel my entire body go limp. My head tilted back with my eyes shut, the sounds of the waves crashing along the beach, the warm breeze carried the sweet smell of the ocean, I was so happy to finally be in Myrtle Beach. Looking over at my friends, I witnessed Jay rubbing his eyes, Joe and Will yawning and Bob stretched out over his towel. I guess we were still feeling the effects of that long drive from Massachusetts to South Carolina. None of us got any sleep during the drive. Bob, Jay and I couldn’t stop fidgeting the entire ride. Joe and Will kept measuring the miles and counting down each mile to the next state border. When we finally arrive at the cottage the five of us never brought in our luggage or bags, we just crashed in the first bed or couch we saw. Today was peaceful, it was nice to just relax on the beach in the warm South Carolina sun. The day seem to escape us as we joked and reminisced about our high schools years. The more we talked, the more I realized that each of us was heading our separate ways. Joe and Will were heading off SMU, Bob and Jay were becoming electricians and I was heading to Dean College in September. There was that short moment of silence as I looked around at our little group, my lips tightened, this was probably the last time we would all be together. Realizing that, my mind was flooded with wonderful memories of high school, my friends, sports, parties, etc. My head drooped down, and I decided to listen to my walkman. As the music started my mind started to drift when Jay tapped me on the shoulder.
“We’re heading back, are you coming?” Jay asked as he stretched his arms out.
Placing my headphones around my neck I looked up and shielded my eyes from the sun light and said, “I am going to stay here for a little longer.”
Jay smiled and gave me a quick nod of approval before heading back to the cottage.
The brightness of the sun started to dim and turn to a more reddish color as it descended behind me. Dusk was a peaceful and beautiful time to be on the beach. It was less inhabited and a little cooler. The smell of the salt air was so soothing and you could hear the rhythm of the waves crashing along the shore. There was a warm offshore breeze flowing in and you could smell the sweet ocean as the tide headed out to sea. The breeze and the waves started to have a tranquilizing effect on me. I was enjoying watching people walk up and down the beach; kids running toward the water and then back trying to avoid the waves, an older couple walking holding hands and mother was holding her infant daughter playing in the water lifting her up when the waves came gliding in. The beach was far from crowded but still had good activity. This was a good time to put my headphones back on and listen to music. The sounds of the beach began to vanish as the music of Chicago took over. Stretching my legs and leaning back on my elbows I shut my eyes and began to hear the music. Slowly I took in a deep breath and opened my eyes. Suddenly something reached out and grabbed my attention. I was captivated by this girl in a red bathing suit. She was walking along the edge of the water glancing out at the ocean on a few occasions. Her sandy blonde hair had reached down just beyond her shoulders. She was about 50 yards in front of me and her stunning beauty had a grasp on me when she stopped for a moment to brush her hair back with both hands. You could see her feeling the warm breeze on her face as she tilted her head back. My heart was slowly pounded and my breath just escaped from my lungs. As she was walking by I could hear the next song start; “You know our love was meant to be, The kind of love that lasts forever”. I am not sure if this was love at first sight but I could not let this moment pass me by. Leaping to my feet I started to I started to walk toward her both shaky legs and nervousness. How am I going to initiate a conversation with her, I thought to myself. Maybe say Hi, how are you? Maybe smile and wave at her. Maybe accidently bump into her. I didn’t know, all I knew was I just had to meet her, or at least try. I waited until she took a few more steps and then I began walking towards the water. She moved at slow pace, so it was easy to keep my distance. The song continued to play; “And I want you here with me from tonight until the end of time”.
Trying to remain cool and calm, I kept my pace with hers as she dragged her feet in the water. She was about 40 yards ahead of me and I knew that she would be turning around to go back but I was not sure when that would happen. My mind went into overdrive trying to think of something witty or funny to say to her. I just wanted to catch her attention. The more I thought about it the more I thought of stupid pick-up lines.
“Damn It!” I whispered to myself.
All I could focus on was the way she was walking up the beach. So I decided to lower my eyes and look down as I continued. Thinking that maybe I should just nod my head at her or smile with a quick wink. Or maybe ask for directions to the docks. Each idea that I came up with seemed more pathetic than the last one. I was a loss for words. Every so often I would look up and making sure to keep my distance. She was still there walking in front of me. My hands began to sweat and my heart still pounded! I knew that she was going to turn around very shortly. My head continued to race to think of something to say. I took another look up and my mouth just dropped. She had stopped walking and was now standing there gazing out at the ocean.
Ok, ok. This is not bad, you still have a few moments to think of something, I said to myself and then noticed that she turned towards me and began her journey back.
“Oh Shit!”, I said quite loudly.
Now is the time! I needed to thinking of something to say. She was 30 yards and closing. My mouth was dry, my palms sweaty, and my heart jumping. Although her strides were slow, everything seem to be speeding up . 20 yards, 10 yards . . . Damn! This was it, I had to say something. I had to say it right now because she was within 5 yards of me. I looked up and saw her blue eyes glance over at me. She gave me a extremely adorable smile. Now was the time, my shining moment had come, I had to say something. I looked at her and our eyes met and I said, “What’s a cute girl like you walking all by herself for?” All that time I spent thinking about what to say and this is the best I can come up with. I blew it!
She gave a slight laugh and said to me, “Waiting for a cute guy to escort me back!” My heart felt like it was coming through my chest. That was it. I stopped right there and so did she! I was not sure what happened and how it happened but a conversation developed.
“Hi” she said in a southern accent, “ I’m Susan.”
I did everything to restrain my excitement and be cool. “Hi, I’m Dave.”
It was at that moment that I felt absolutely at ease with her and could talk freely. The conversation on the way back flowed. She was Susan from West Virginia and she was down here with her friend’s family. Susan was going to be a high school senior and I was a freshmen in college. My hands were absolutely sweaty and my mind was racing around but I never took my eyes off of her eyes. Her eyes! Her eyes were light blue and I melted when she looked at me. We made it back to the spot where I first saw her. We talked a little bit more, reluctantly we parted and I could not wait to get back to the cottage and tell my friends about her. Oh man! She is stunning!
I burst through the front door and saw Jay on the couch and Joe in the kitchen. I immediately began to tell Jay about her and our conversation. As Joe came walking into the living room he asked one question. “Did you get her number?’ I paused and my eyes widded. Jay then chimed in and said, “Do you know where she is staying?” My head just dropped into my right hand. “Shit!” quickly I turned towards the door and ran out. Heading back towards the beach I could hear laughter from the cottage .
I made it back to the beach but by this time Sue was nowhere to be found. I stayed there for a while, hoping that she might show up. After about an hour I went back to the cottage. This time everyone was at the dining room table hanging out. Joe was ready to give me a hard time but Jay saw the look on my face and quickly looked over at Joe. Joe got the hint and said that she will be around and it’s the beginning of the week. Not only did I feel like an idiot, but I felt my heart drop.
We had a few beers and got ready to go out for the night. We were going to hit the Strip and walk around. I just wanted stay in the cottage and wallow in my regrets, but Jay talked me into going. When we arrived Jay and I took off and went to a few stores. The Strip was crowded with people walking up and down and the cars were slowly trolling the main street. It was a warm summer night and the lights flooded the Strip. Everyone seemed to be having a good time. Although I thought I was putting up a good front smiling and laughing, Jay could see right through that and said me, “You want head back to the cottage and have a few more beers?” “Yea!”, I answered. We saw Will with Joe and told them we were heading back. There was silence for a moment and Joe said we can head back in about 15-20 minutes if you want. I told Jay that it was fine with me if waited. Jay and I started walking the strip again, at that moment I heard a voice to my left. “Hey didn’t I meet you on the beach today?” As I looked over I saw Susan in the passenger side of a small hatchback leaning out the window. She gave me a big smile. My eyes widded and I froze for just a second or two! I hit Jay on the shoulder and said”Jay! Jay! This is Susan the girl I told you about on the beach!” She laughed and introduced us to her friend. We were talking about a minute before two police officers came up to us and told us we were blocking traffic. “Either get in the car with them or move along!” Susan’s friend told us to get in the back. We drove around for a few minutes and asked them if they wanted to go to our cottage. They did! The whole ride back to the cottage Susan and I talked, and as we talked her blues eyes melted my heart.
She pulled the car onto the gravel driveway and Jay and I immediately paired up with the girls. I asked Susan to go down to the beach. She did and we continued our conversation from this afternoon. We both sat down on the cool sand and just talked. We talked about school, summer, music, etc. it was getting late. I got up and put my hand out to help her up. When I felt her hand grab my hand a sensation came over me. Butterflies were bouncing around in my stomach. I guided her up from the sand and held her hand in mine. I turned into her and held her other hand. That brief moment, at that point, I wish I could savor that feeling forever. We stood there and looked into each other’s eyes. Susan gave a slight smile and I lean into her for a kiss. She responded the same way. Her lips were soft and sweet. It was a light kiss filled with soft passion. She smiled again and said, “That was really sweet!” My heart was beating fast and my breath escaped me. Susan took one hand from my hand and placed it on the side of my face. She shut her eyes and moved her hand to the back of my neck and pulled me in for another kiss. I placed my free hand on her waist and began to pull her towards me. I moved my other hand onto her waist and she placed both her hands on each side of my face. As we kissed you could hear the waves crashing along the beach. It was a warm night and it was so romantic. This moment, this time, this feeling, I will never forget. Each kiss was better than the last. At one moment we stopped kissing and just looked into each other’s eyes. It seems like such a cliche but I was swept off my feet and it did not seem corny to me. I was taken over by this beautiful girl from West Virginia. My heart was hers. My soul was hers. In this short amount time I was falling for her, I wanted to spend every second together. I wanted to share every moment with her. Susan looked at me and said, “Are you ok?” I shook my head and kissed her on the forehead. I pulled her in closer and we hugged. She had moved her hands down onto my chest and felt my heart pound. I could hear Jay and Susan’s friend calling for us. They were approaching the beach. Susan never pulled away from me. She stayed holding me while they walked up to us. Jay smiled at me and gave me a nod. Her friend told us that they had to get going. Susan looked at me, smiled and told me she will stop by tomorrow morning. I asked her where they were staying. She pointed at a condo that was less than 1/10th of a mile away. God damn!
That next morning Susan had stopped by as promised. She looked as beautiful as she did the night before. We spent the day together and talked. We walked up the beach and as I reached for her hand to hold, she knew instantly and grabbed my hand. Our hands interlocked with each finger in between her fingers. At that moment a feeling came over me like a wave. The feelings were overwhelming, but the best feeling was the warmth in my heart that spread throughout my body. My mind was racing and could not believe that this girl, I was holding hands with, was actually with me. That day was a day that will always be with me. Even as I write this down I still feel that warmth in my heart and my soul. We did everything together that day. Most of the time we spent together we talked. We asked each other questions about our lives, where we grew up, what music we listen to, etc. The more I knew about her the more I was falling for her. Her West Virginia accent was so sweet to listen to, her blue eyes captivated me, her sandy-blond hair, and her tanned body didn’t hurt either. But her personality. Susan was funny, caring, lovable, sweet and interesting. We got along that day and the days that followed. While my friends went out to clubs and other places, Susan and spent time together. We would sit on the beach at night and talk. Yes we would kiss and hold each other. When we did kiss it was like the first kiss. Never wanting to end. I remember lying down next to her on the beach. I shifted around, lying on my stomach with my left arm reaching across her waist and as I looked down at her, she just softly closed her eyes. Her left arm was under me and reaching up my back. I reached across to her waist pulling her closer to me. She reached up and slid her hand up the front of my chest to the back of my neck and pulled me closer to her. We softly kissed and for a moment, as I shut my eyes, I was completely captivated in the passion of that kiss. At that moment, at that precise second, I realized that my feelings for her were strong. I knew I was falling in love with this girl. Even though we only spent a few days together, every moment we shared felt right.
That final day came, the day we had to say goodbye to each other. This was a day earlier than I expected, Susan had to leave on Thursday morning because of the drive back to West Virginia. She stopped by the cottage early, I was tired and depressed. I kept thinking about this moment the entire night. I hated this feeling, but the moment I saw her walking around the corner my mind flooded with emotions. God I was thrilled to see her again but quickly realized that this time was the last. We chatted for a little bit but most of the time we just held each other. My heart felt like it was being torn out. This sick feeling overwhelmed me. Sadness creeped in with every minute. I wanted time to stop, so I could catch my breath and keep this beautiful girl in my arms. My heart pounded but it was not like before. I was anticipating that dreaded moment that was about to happen. Finally, which seemed like only a few seconds, Susan looked at me and said, ‘I have to go!’ I could tell she was crying. God I wanted to comfort her and tell her how much I loved her. ‘I know you do,’ I replied. Tears were starting to fill up in my eyes. I could not hold it back much longer but I did not want her to see me like this. I kept my head down. She kissed me on the forehead. With my hand, I reached out and grabbed her hand. I pulled her close to me and kissed her. I held her as tight as I could. Then I whispered to her, ‘I love you! Don’t you ever forget about me!’ Susan whispered back into my ear, ‘I will never forget you!’ It was at that moment we both let go and she started walking away. My heart was torn out of my chest. This pain was too much. When I could not see her anymore I broke down and started to cry. This feeling of sadness took over me and came out all at once. Leaning against the front of the car I heard the front door to the cottage open. I did not turn around because I was such a mess. I felt a hand on back and Jay’s voice saying, ‘It’s hard and it sucks!’ those words don’t seem like much but they went a long way with me. Jay might not be a master of words, but he is a true friend and has always been there for me. We stayed outside not saying anything for a long time. Then I said, ‘Let’s get something to eat.’ We walked into the cottage and had breakfast.
All day long I could not help but think of Susan. I was wondering where she was at certain times during the day. Was she thinking of me on the ride home? How long would she remember me? At times I felt like crying. For the most part I kept it together, but when I was alone I would let it out. That night we went out but my heart was with Susan. I was not much fun and my friends knew why. We went to some local club and drank a few beers, but I did not want to be here anymore. I just wanted to go home.
The next morning we left Myrtle Beach. Jay and I drove together in his car on our way home. At times we would take turns driving. All I could think about was Susan. Certain songs on the radio would trigger a memory I had of her. I did not want to forget the short time we had together. When I was driving I would play the Chicago tape I was listening to when I first saw Susan walking along the beach.
After Myrtle Beach, I saw Susan one other time. Jay and I took a trip to Morgantown, WV during Labor Day Weekend. We recruited our friend Karl to go with us. The trip was about a 10 hour drive. Like driving down to Myrtle Beach we all took shifts driving.
I saw Susan for a couple days that weekend. The first night I saw Susan was at her high school football game. She was on the sideline cheerleading when I arrived. She looked so adorable, Susan looked as beautiful and stunning as the first time I saw her. That entire weekend was just as special as the time we spent down in Myrtle Beach. Jay and Karl were great. When the game was over Susan came up to me and gave me a huge tremendous adoring hug. Her embrace felt so affectionate! When I closed my eyes and held her close to me I caught a whiff of her aroma. The fragrance brought me back to Myrtle Beach. Funny we did not kiss but just held each other for a brief time. The moment we let go, I clutched her hand and walked her over to Jay and Karl. After I introduced her to them, Susan and I talked for a little longer. She had to go home tonight but we made plans for tomorrow. It was a little heartbreaking but I knew we would be together for the next couple of days.
Those two days rapidly flew by. Our last day together was just as hard as the last time we said goodbye. In the parking lot of the motel I had her in my arms. She embraced me with the same warmth and intensity as I had. We did not say anything for the longest time. Her arms started to squeeze me tighter and I knew it would be agonizing to let her go from my arms. To release our grasp that we had on each other would be to let go forever. Even in mind I was planning my next trip see her, in the back of my mind I knew this was the last time I would be with her again. I felt that Susan was thinking the same thing. Occasionally her embrace would get a little tighter. As we slowly released our hug my hands moved down to her waist. Her hands lowered down to my chest. I looked into her sensational blue eyes and saw a tear gently slide down her check. I pulled her in and tenderly kissed her on the forehead. When I pulled back I looked into her eyes. “I love you!” I said .
“I love you too.” she replied and put her head on my chest again.
The time came for us to let go and finally say ‘goodbye’. With my hands firmly holding onto hers, the sensation of tears formed in my eyes. As much as I tried to held back the tears the worse it got. Susan looked at and brushed the tears of my face. Her hand shifted to the back of my neck and she kissed me again. Susan looked up at me, there was a brief moment of silence and then we kissed for the last time. “I’ll write soon.” I said. She shook her head and then we parted. I watched her get into her car and drive off. I got myself together and headed back to the room.
I kept hanging on to the idea of a relationship with Susan, but as time went on the realization began to sink in. We wrote each other 2-3 times a week but as weeks turn into months the letters became less frequent. Soon the letters gradually stopped.
It has been 35 years since I last saw Susan but the memories are still strong. Although I fell in love again and now have a family, I never forgot about Susan. Over the years I have always wondered what she is doing, Where she was living?, What type of job she has?, Did she ever get married, have children? Is she happy? I never stopped caring for her.
No matter how old you are or how many years have gone by, you never forget your first experiences. Some are more memorable than others and there are some you would like to forget. Each memory I will always cherish, my first hit playing baseball as a kid, riding bike without training wheels, I walking into Fenway Park and seeing the Green Monster, my first date, etc. But the one that sticks out the most, as far as first experiences go, is the first time I fell in love.