“FIRST LOVE’S AGONY AND ECSTASY”
“Many a tear has to fall/but it’s all in the game/all in the wonderful game that we know as love…” –Tommy Edwards, 1958
Love, when it touches a young heart for the very first time, is probably best pictured in this song by Tommy Edwards. It was the #1 song the summer we met. It expressed how love assaults the unsuspecting heart like no other emotion known to man. It is a burning, sweet pain that blossoms with every smile and wilts with every frown. The flame of first love can eventually burn out–and usually does– but there is always that one little dying ember just waiting to be fanned into life again.
July, 1958. At almost 15, I had gone away to camp for the first time. There I met a young man four years older who, like the song says, “stole my heart away.” The first thing he said to me was unreal…and I accused him of using a “line” as we called such ploys back in those days. He met me on a path, stood back in assessment (I guess) for at least a minute or two before speaking, “Brenda Starks, I think I like you.” This is how it began.
The week we spent in this idyllic place was magical in my young teen-aged mind. Whenever we were not involved in other activities, we spent time together–in long conversation–learning as much as we could about the other.
I knew from the beginning nothing could come of it once we left this place and told him so. He insisted the age difference was not important to him yet he was concerned about the 80 mile distance between our two towns…BUT he was going away to college in the fall and I was only entering high school.
On the next to last night, the preacher at this church camp used Mark 11:24 as his text. He encouraged us to employ the power of Christian prayer: “…What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” “Whatever you desire–remember that–but faith is the driving force and, of course it must be God’s perfect will,” he reminded.
That night, as soon as I marked the verse in my Bible and lights were out in my cabin, I prayed more fervently than I ever had before…I prayed that some day this young man would be mine!
The final night of camp. A Memories Celebration around the campfire. At the end we were to stand and hold hands. It was the first time he’d touched me and it was like the electric feeling I had when Daddy first turned on the lights to our Christmas tree. I felt it at the top of my head to the soles of my feet. He continued to hold my hand as he said, “I hope you know how special this week with you has been. We exchanged addresses this morning. Will you write me?” “IF you write first,” I told him. He promised. Our week was over. And I was feeling love for the very first time.
Back home, I haunted our post office box down town but always came away disappointed. THEN 3 full weeks later, the letter was there. I ran home, cradling it to my breast. In the privacy of my room, I began to cry as I read the mundane words…”Dear Brenda…fun at camp, didn’t we? …a remarkable young girl and I won’t forget…getting ready for college here…meeting new and interesting people…good luck in H.S…take care…” and that was IT. I cried. I waited over a week to write back in the same cool, casual tone.
“Once in awhile he won’t call…but it’s all in the game…” Tommy Edwards 1958
After more weeks and no answer, I did not go to the post office any more.
July, 1960…Daddy’s store clerk called in sick and he asked me to fill in. I was arranging a new order of domestics when I heard footsteps approaching the counter. Then the familiar voice, “Brenda Starks, I think I still like you.” I stuttered and sputtered and so did he at first as he told me he remembered my Dad’s store and was hoping to learn how he could find me. On my break, we went across the street to the drugstore and, over Cokes, we caught each other up on all that had happened since we last saw each other. He was transferring to LSU that fall and I was entering my senior year. Later, he drove me home and asked me for a date the following week. That night, I looked back in my 1958 diary and saw that it had been exactly 2 years and one day since I’d so fervently prayed for him!
To be continued…
Brenda Miles is an award-winning columnist and author residing in Hot Springs Village. She welcomes your comments at [email protected]