It was a beautiful day, and the sun was shining with just a few fluffy, white clouds floating in the pale, blue sky.
Little did I know, a memory would be created that day that I would never forget—even if I tried.
It was Canada Day—July 1st—and going to Parliament Hill to be amongst the large crowds of people was a given for my age group. I was just 19 at the time, well over 30 years ago. The downtown was alive with music, the restaurants were jammed with patrons, and the streets were packed with people walking everywhere and anywhere. It was a day to celebrate.
Parliament Hill was shoulder to shoulder with people watching the music lineup. I have no idea who was playing that day; we would only venture there to eventually watch the spectacular and colorful fireworks display later in the evening.
I was feeling particularity festive that day. My best friend, Leslie, and I were just walking around taking it all in. It had been a hot summer and my hair was sun-kissed blonde, my skin a bit burnt from too much sun. I wore a white, loose T-shirt, flowing charcoal capris, a floppy sun hat to protect my already reddish face, and flip-flops.
Playful would be the best word to describe my outfit and my energy that day.
Leslie and I were walking across a football-size field. The grass was brown from too much sun and not enough rain. It was a dry summer, and we could hear the crunch of the dead grass with each step we took.
And then there he was, walking toward me.
He was not perfectly clear at first, more of a silhouette in the distance, and he was alone. At some point, our eyes made contact, well before I could even make out the color. We locked gazes and moved toward each other. I honestly felt like I was in a trance.
As he got closer, our eyes still locked, I could see that he had light brown hair, which he wore in a messy, windblown look. His walk slowed as he neared me. I could see that his white T-shirt with writing on the front was loose fitting and sloppy. His jeans were faded and fit in that comfortable but not too tight way. The whole look matched my playful energy, so I rather liked it.
He got closer and I got more drawn in, my eyes never drifting from his gaze. At that moment, the noise and festivities were fading into the background. The rest of the world was no longer relevant—just him and I and the anticipation of reaching each other in the middle of that dry desert field in the hot scorching sun.
Leslie was still by my side, but too distracted by the excitement and people watching to notice what was transpiring with her friend. Not that I really cared—at least not yet.
As he approached, I could feel the excitement build: sweaty palms, racing heart—it was all there.
We were soon just a few feet apart and I could see that his eyes were blue, and he was close to my height. He was looking at me as intensely as I was looking at him. It was like something out of a slow-motion movie clip.
Within a few minutes, but what seemed like eternity, we were looking at each other, face-to-face, our eyes still locked.
He reached out, gently took my hand, and said, “Please come with me; you have to come with me.” Every inch of my being wanted to go with him; it was not even a question in my mind. I had to go.
Then Leslie finally noticed what was going on. She could see that I was in this mesmerized state, ready to follow this nameless young man who was still intently holding onto my hand. She fiercely grabbed my arm, pulled me away, and said, “Gina what are you doing.” I shook free from her grip and said, “I have to go.”
Her reply, which not only stung but shook me out of my dazed state, was, “Think about Allan.”
Allan was my boyfriend at the time. He had been travelling for work all summer and I had not heard from him in over two solid weeks. As far as I was concerned, I belonged to no one and was free to go. But Leslie’s words brought on the guilt and the questioning and the doubt. All of which had not even entered my mind until she uttered Allan’s name.
Leslie pulled hard on my arm and eventually was able to pull me way. I gave in and let go of this beautiful creature standing before me. I could see the sadness in his eyes as the distance between us grew larger. He just stood there looking at me with pleading eyes, and I could not help but feel that I was making a huge mistake.
I have never forgotten that day, that moment in time, that nameless young man who captivated me so intensely on that hot, summer day. For the rest of my life, and still to this day, I have been searching for him in the eyes and hearts of other men. Longing for the intense feelings I felt so unabashedly that day.
He let me know what is possible—if only for a brief and fleeting moment. I will carry those feelings, that memory in my heart forever. For he was my first and, for that, I am grateful.