When I think of first love, I don’t think of him.
I don’t think about the soft bridge of his nose, or the way his eyes slanted away from each other in small, sloppy angles that I could only see if I was close enough.
I don’t remember the contours of his face, or the geography of his torso; those peaks and planes are foreign land now.
I don’t play memories in my head, like scratchy old timey movie reels with a lot of action and no sound.
I don’t try to recall the exact moment he dipped his head and told me he loved me, with no thought of what tomorrow might bring.
I don’t remember running my fingers on the back of his neck or dipping to stroke his ear, marveling at the folds and ridges that were so unlike mine, but felt like my own.
I don’t think of his voice and how it strained whenever he said I was his; the weight of loving me bore too heavily on his artist’s temperament.
I don’t remember his rounded shoulders, or how he sat slightly hunched over, as if to shield himself from the world, or vice versa.
When I think of first love, I don’t think of him. That would be like buying a map to wander through my own streets, like asking a stranger for the way home.
I can’t leave him behind: he follows, he follows, he follows.