Aaah first-times. Mmmm….
No, I’m not talking about only sex.
I’m talking about those defining moments in our lives.
Like an old photograph, most memories fade. But somehow first-times stick in our minds forever – some good, some bad – shaping us – influencing our thoughts, molding our opinions and manipulating our choices for the rest of our lives.
But first-times don’t necessarily only happen when we are young. As unique individuals, each of us experience first-times at different stages throughout our lives until the first time we die. Some we will always remember fondly and others we will choose to ignore – but, never forget.
Recently, I had a very special first-time.
I was visiting Sexy Legs in the Windy City. It was a glorious Summer’s day. We were at the beach.
And I was watching my son swimming in the ocean for the first time.
The last time I saw Chad in seawater he was 10 months old. I remember feeling blissfully happy as I lay on the beach watching him play in the sea-sand and water for the first time in his life. I was content – believing foolishly that I was in control. Days later our, seemingly perfect, lives were shattered.
Now here I was again watching my boy – fiercely maternal and proud as can be.
But, it was different.
I was not the same – no longer young, reckless and carefree.
The harsh realities of life had taught me stuff – gratitude, wisdom, restraint, humility. I was no longer able to physically go onto the beach with him. That is tough. And cruel.
He too has changed.
He is already 13 with his looks more chiseled and beginning to resemble a man. Handsome. Strong. Adventurous. Bold. And aware.
Oh my God! How did my baby get so big, so quickly?
We first walked out onto the pier together, humbled by the enormity and power of the ocean. We spent a few minutes at the end, simply appreciating the breathtaking view. The sound of the ocean beneath us was drowning out any other sounds – including my complaints about my hair constantly blowing into my mouth.
I felt as if we were on a platform and the waves were dancing beneath us to the happy tune playing in my heart. I wanted to savour every moment of this first-time experience with my son.
He hugged me tight. And kissed me on the cheek. Mom, I’m going to swim. Okay?
Not before I gave him strict instructions and explained that he needed to stay between the red flags so that the lifeguards could keep an eye on him. Ja, I know mom. I know.
Okay boy. Just be careful. Love you.
I watched as my boy made his way down onto the beach. It was packed. So was the piece of water between the flags.
I was anxious but excited. My heart wanted to burst with joy and yet I wanted to cry in sorrow.
Sexy Legs draped his arm around my shoulders and drew me close, in comfort. I looked at him – just for a second – connecting – knowing that he understands, everything.
I looked back across the swimming area and was instantly irritated with myself for taking my eyes off of Chad. I could feel my heart skip a few beats in panic as I scanned the half-naked bodies on the sand and the multitude of bobbing heads in the water, searching for my child.
I spotted him moments before he dived into the surf.
As he surfaced again, I looked for a sign – anything – to be sure that he was mine. But there was no mistaking his body language – his mannerisms and gestures unique, yet not different to mine or his dad’s. I felt much like a mother zebra instinctively recognizing her foal among all the others.
He waved. I nodded my head. He gave me a thumbs-up. And I smiled.
Just that one exchange between a mother and her son was enough – I knew that I would never forget this first-time.
The three of us spent a long time together at the beach – Sexy Legs and Chad on the wall, me on the walkway. We spent time talking to one another, watching the other people and laughing our heads off – especially after Sexy Legs put a cable tie into my hair (in desperation) to keep it from constantly going into my mouth.
It was a perfect day. And a first-time to be cherished.
Please share your recent first-times with me too.
Glad to see you back! I was a bit confused at first as the “Windy City” in the US is Chicago and there is most certainly not an ocean near there!
My firsts that come to mind are all times when I was scared, about to take a chance – first time I drove a car, first time I showed up at college, first time I gave birth, first time I posted on my blog. How nice that your first was so fabulous!
Tracy I loved your ‘My First Time: Dancing with Waves’ and the fact that you are able to express so beautifully your thoughts and feelings.
I loved the cable tie – now I will never again be able to use a cable tie for my flower arranging mechanics without seeing that picture of you with your hair tied back!
Thank you for being so articulate in your writing and sharing your thoughts with us.
I think that I have now worked out that your computer works on ‘voice’.
Thank you for your kind words, Helen.
Yes, my computer works “on voice”. 😉
Most of my recent first time activities involve performing gicky medical exams. I won’t go into detail, but they are as exciting and beautiful to me as this experience must have been for you. You know, you could safely experience the waves yourself in a pontooned double-kayak (with a paddling companion) or outrigger canoe (much faster, with a team of paddlers). Activities that offer the sensation of weightlessness are freeing for all us prisoners of gravity.
As we grow open and accepting of all life’s experiences, each one becomes new. All things get refreshed and reborn. Each moment becomes the first one you’ve lived, the you as you are now.
I agree Michael that all things get refreshed and reborn. We just need to learn to look differently.
I like the canoe idea. Thank you.
A recent first that gave me a thrill was buying a power tool! On my own after 30 years of dependent marriage, I’ve had to think differently and take responsibility for doing things I never did before, like home and garden maintenance. I decided that a leaf blower would be the thing for keeping the paving clear. Not having a budget for a new one, I phoned Cash Converters and was gobsmacked to hear they had one for R200. It turned out to be a roaring monster of a thing that made my testosterone rise (girls do have a little, don’t they?) that sucks as well as blows (whoo hoo!) and, to top it off, I had to change the two-pin plug on it. I was unstoppable the whole day, running my leaf blower and probably annoying the neighbours intensely. But it was so rewarding to do something so much out of my normal experience without a single scrap of help from a man, and which I’d never had the opportunity or cause to, before.
Charmaine — thank you so much for sharing your story. I can feel your sense of power. And I love it! You go girl! 🙂
pure Zen awesomeness, thanks for sharing your cherished moments with us 🙂
Thank you, Mario. Glad you enjoyed it! 🙂
How wonderful to have shared such a very special day my darling…..you were probably sitting exactly where I used to swim – same age as Chad is..
All my love, Aunty Dolores.
Thank you, Aunty Dolores. Love you. 🙂
I read your blog and once again was blown away. How many people can sit on the beach and just absolutely savour the moment? Most people sit there and whinge cos we’re too fat/too thin/the wind is blowing too much/its too hot. I wish more people could learn your amazing Attitude-of-Gratitude.
You and your Comrade Legs are a real inspiration to us all
You are so right, Cindy. We should all strive to be grateful for the bodies that we have. There was a time in my life when I had a beautiful body and I took it for granted. I did not realize what I had until I lost it. Thank you for your encouragement. 🙂
My special “first tine” was my first solo flight in a light aircraft. Will I ever forget that day? We did two circuits at Wonderboom and the instructor said make the next one a full-stop. I was mildly p’d off as I reckoned I did everything as close to perfect as I could. When we stopped and I started preparing to shut down the engine he stopped me and said: “Time for you to do this on your own – there you go”. I was over the moon! I requested taxi clearance – I don’t think the nose wheel strayed from the centre of the centre-line. The power-check suddenly felt more important than ever before. When the controller gave me take-off clearance he added “good luck” – better than getting the fire brigade out I guess!
Take-off and left turn was routine, but on the downwind leg I realised for the first time it’s only me… No-one to tell you watch your attitude, lower the nose to get some speed… On the approach I felt that familiar tension that builds up in your arms and legs whenever you’re stressed. I just repeated “stay loose” and when the wheels kissed the runway I breathed out, for the first time in a few minutes. WOW!
The beers afterwards tasted better than any beer ever did!
Thank you for sharing your story, Anton. As you know, I also love flying so I can relate to your first time. 🙂
And you also love beer! 😉