First Love

by John C. Westervelt

As a teenager, most of my closest friends were in my church youth group. While I liked all of the girls, there was one I enjoyed being around the most.

My house was two blocks east of Wesley United Methodist Church. Selma lived a mile the other direction. As Selma visited my year-younger sister, my mother became Selma’s friend. I was in Selma’s home often enough with the youth group to become a good friend of Selma’s mother.

It was the summer of 1944. I was sixteen. One evening after supper my mother let me ride my bicycle to Selma’s house. Our mothers trusted us and we trusted each other, so we received permission to take a walk in the large field next to Selma’s house. Having played there with other boys, I knew the paths well.

Shadows lengthened into dusk. As we walked hand-in-hand, stars began to fill the summer sky. The only sound was the soft crunch of the trampled grass beneath our steps along the path. The walk was now taking us back toward Selma’s house. When we were close enough to home for Selma to feel secure, yet far enough away for the two of us to be fully alone, I slowed the pace. Releasing Selma’s hand, I turned to face her. Both of us were too shy to speak. I put my hands loosely on her waist. She didn’t seem to mind. As I slowly circled my hold to draw her to me, she put her arms on top of mine.

I had never heard about this at home or studied about it in school or church, but it all seemed so natural. Now I was holding her close. Instinctively I leaned over to kiss her. As she stretched on her toes, despite her short stature, our mouths met easily in a warm kiss. In all of God’s creation, I thought there couldn’t be a more wonderful feeling.

Slowly, I released my hold and turned to take her hand to finish the walk to her house. At the door we said goodbye. On the bike ride home my muscles felt unusually strong as I traveled the deserted streets, which were dimly lit by a streetlight on each corner. I slept with an understanding that God’s creation of boys and girls was a marvelous thing.

A year later I was off to college, leaving Selma behind to finish her senior year of high school. My engineering studies took priority over time for girls. After five years in college, followed by three in the navy, I came home. By now Selma was married and starting a family. We each ended up marrying the person that God had chosen for us.

Selma and I have remained good friends. While we had been as much in love as youth can understand during that long ago summer, our love for our spouses was infinitely more. Still, a youthful kiss, shared with respect, is remembered to this day.

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