Portrait of My First Love

Portrait of My First Love

Apologies for the lack of paragraphs. I’d prefer to get these up and out by cutting and pasting rather than re-keystroking.
I’m not sure there’s ever been a gender attached to this entity, but let’s assume my first love was male. And his name was Sugar.Of course, I didn’t know I was in love until it was time to let him go.
But a little backstory first. A child of the 50’s and 60’s, there was not the awareness then about the evils of this guy. White Sugar was king of the hill. It was in everything, delicious, highly addictive and readily available, not like the unavailable guys I sought later in life.
He ruled the household I was brought up in. Nary a day, nary a meal passed without his appearance. Besides sweet treats at breakfast, lunch and dinner, a typical Sunday evening ended with us watching Perry Como in living color on the tv set in our den where there was a jar of Hopjes, an opened package of brown licorice, and more often than not, the offer of a scoop of ice cream brought out on a tray. This was a sign of love. I readily ate it up. Sugar and me forever.
Sugar was my best friend. Any time, and I do mean any time there was anything the least bit distasteful occurring in my day, I would unroll a Life Saver or a wrapped peppermint candy and pop him into my mouth. Ahhhh. Now I can handle it. Sugar was in endless supply, served as a balm in testy relationships, and ever-present at meetings where there would be a tray of donuts in the center of the table to get you through.
In my early 20s there was an article in the Times about finding housemates for summer rentals in the Hamptons. One group of renters met their prospects at a hip Manhattan bar to test the fit. I wouldn’t have made it to first base with those folks. Had they said, “Let’s meet for an ice cream sundae at Friendly’s” – my all-time favorite House of Sugar–I might have considered a seasonal opportunity that would never have attracted me otherwise. That’s how powerful my feelings about Sugar were. I would do things I wouldn’t ordinarily do if it were available and on the table.
One of the things I most enjoyed about going to my husband’s childhood home in NJ were the generous portions of mint chocolate chip ice cream his mother would serve me. None of those measly one scoop bowls in their household. She’d fill a cereal bowl with 4-5 scoops of that luscious light green treat flecked with dark brown pieces, and bring it to me with a soup spoon. I took large bites there. Nothing bothered me in those days.
But this love of mine was not always kind to me. He was reliable, but there was a residual effect to being in his company. While I was high, happy and satisfied anticipating our time together, during it and for awhile afterwards, inevitably I would begin to notice feelings of disgust, disappointment and depression within hours of our coupling.
It took me a long time to make this connection, because I was so deeply in love. How could I accuse the one relationship that made me so ecstatically happy of also making me consistently so unhappy. No! Please! Anything but that. Don’t take away my Sugar!
I toyed with a break-up. I’d hear friends saying things like, “My doctor says this relationship is bad for me and doing terrible things to my body.” I thought, so is mine, but…whatever. And I’d dabble. “Let’s do a trial separation,” I’d offer. “One week. We won’t see each other for one week.” Sugar made no counter offer. He accepted my decision. He was quiet like that. Never made a fuss. Let me go.
But my desperate need for him would weigh on me. I’d think about him incessantly. Not just daily, but hourly, even minute to minute. I missed him something fierce. After a few days of separation, that craving for his presence in my life would let up. My head would be clear and I’d have bursts of joy for no particular reason. I knew then that I could live without him, and I stopped missing him.
And then, inevitably, there’d be a reminder of our joyful times together. Heading through the checkout line at Waldbaum’s, I’d pass the candy section on my right—Peppermint Patties, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, packs of Bazooka bubble gum called my name. And Sugar would be back in my life, taking over every waking minute of my existence with his profound impact on me, my body and my life. He was so sweet, so there, so fulfilling.

The affair lasted over 40 years. The final breakup was swift and decisive. Sugar is out of my life. I miss him occasionally and allow some of his cronies in in small amounts, but net-net, I don’t miss him at all anymore. There’s a Leonard Cohen line that sums it up: I lost the one thing that makes me happy. Now everything makes me happy. Goodbye, Sugar. Hello Life!

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