I met my first love when I when both he and I were 14 years old. What began as friends eventually blossomed into love-struck, high-school sweethearts making plans for fairytale future. It was 1969, and the innocent vision for our lives quickly dissolved when he was deployed to Vietnam. In a fit of romance, he decided to take his too-small paycheck and buy me a red dress before he shipped out. However, this fit of romance quickly turned into a fit of reality when he realized he did not have enough money to make the purchase. Nevertheless, we said our tearful good-byes, and he left with no timeline for when he would return. Time passed, as time does, and while he was one of the lucky ones who did return home alive and intact, we still ended up going our separate ways. He set off to pursue different dreams than those of his younger, teenage self, and I too followed my own path of marrying another man and raising two beautiful daughters. Through it all we stayed friends, and when I suddenly found myself divorced after 15 years of marriage, our friendship once again began to blossom into that of two sweethearts making plans for the future. In a fit a romance, he immediately went out and bought me a beautiful, red, sexy, suede, backless dress to fulfill his promise he made all those years ago. We celebrated by going to dinner, and I, of course, donned the special red dress. In this fairytale moment, we sat across from each other, with stars in our eyes… until I dropped my napkin on the floor. As I reached down to pick it up, that sexy, suede, BACKLESS dress slipped forward, and completely OFF my now mostly naked body. I pulled myself back to together and we immediately began laughing. It has been many decades since that dinner and my first love is clearly going to be my last love in this lifetime. The sexy, red suede dress no longer fits, but still hangs in the closet reminding us that life is a beautiful, complicated, non-fairytale of love and good-byes, mistakes and making-up, tragedy and comedy, ups and downs, and we have the courage in us to face it all.
NOTE: The painting ships rolled and will need to be restretched before hanging.