Illustration Gabrielle Conlon


I remember how we met,
what I was watching when you moved in up the street,
how reluctant I was to go say hello.

I remember every video we made together,
first on your chocolate phone,
then with your camera.
I remember school projects, inside jokes, sleepovers.
I remember watching Kung Fu Panda with you at the hospital when I was diagnosed with diabetes.
I remember you saying you’d come visit me in the hospital after the accident.
I remember when you didn’t.
I remember more than I could ever put down in words.

I remember when I asked you if you’d ever kiss a girl,
and you replied,
I remember saying I would “Definitely kiss a girl.”
I remember when ‘definitely’ turned into ‘only,’
when ‘girl’ turned into ‘you.’
(Or at least I think I do.)

I remember so damn much about you that I can’t hear certain songs,
can’t go certain places,
can’t watch certain movies,
without seeing you,
hearing you,
feeling you,

And I don’t want this poem to be about you,
because for all my bitter words that speak to the contrary,
I want to believe I’ve moved on.

You were a first for me.
You were the first girl I ever fell for,
the first girl I wanted to hold,
the first girl I wanted to be held by.

But now I know better.

Now I know what it means to not feel like my presence is an inconvenience,
like my friendship is a burden.
Now I know what it feels like to not only support, but to be supported in return.

And it’s different this time.
We don’t text constantly the way you and I used to.
We don’t hang out the way you and I did.
She doesn’t know nearly as much about me as you did, as you probably still do.

And maybe that’s what I did wrong.
Maybe I gave you too much power over me.
If knowledge is power,
then you stood the monarch of my whole existence.

And all that time I spent falling in love with you,
why did no one tell me that I was doing it all wrong?
Why did no one tell me that you were never meant to be my first love,
that I should have rained all that love down on my own petals,
my own roots,
my own seeds.

And for all that I’ve grown,
why does saying that still strike me as selfish,
as wrong.

No first will ever compare to the day when I realize that loving myself is not a crime,
but a necessity.