I can remember the first time I swam on my own. It was summer, during an afternoon swim camp at the YMCA that my mother had signed me up for to learn how to swim, and it was with this very nice young, blonde woman who really liked me and was very patient with me. I had a lot of trouble grasping things when I was a child, much more than other children, and swimming was a tough one especially because of the coordination involved, which I was and still am very poor with. I still cannot even tie my shoes, so that gives you some idea how bad I am at coordination. I remember feeling so good that I finally got it, that I finally figured out how to swim. I don’t swim anymore. I haven’t swam in years, actually. But I learned how, and that was great.
I can remember the first time I had sex. It was with a friend, and suddenly after one brief period of time spent together, we were closer than ever. We started chatting all the time, hanging out on video chat or texting, and watching movies online together. It was a very hard time for me, as my grandmother was getting exceptionally ill, and I didn’t really know who else to turn to. Then, one night I stayed at her place, and after watching a movie, we decided to go ahead and sleep together. It made me feel safe, and it made me feel loved. It was the first time I’d ever felt like that, and it was something I’d wanted for a long time. I can remember waking up the next morning and feeling like a different person. I know they say that it’s all in the mind, that virginity is a ‘social construct’ and all that, and that’s well and good, but for someone like me, who’s spent her life being shunned and rejected, it meant the world for someone to want me like that.
I can remember the first time I finished a really long book. It was 7th grade, and it was Stephen King’s “IT” which I managed to read in a week and a half, which is impressive considering it’s a thousand pages long. But the real reason this meant a lot to me was because, as I’ve talked about on this blog before, I had so much trouble learning how to read when I was little. To go from needing a private tutor in 2nd grade to finishing a thousand page horror novel in 7th grade…it was a real triumph for me, and made me feel so good about myself. Sure, I’d read the first few Harry Potter books, and those were long, but those were for the most part kids books at the time. I’d even read some Redwall books, and those were novels too, even as much as four hundred pages sometimes, but this…this was a real novel. I’d finally read a really big book, and I never felt better about my skill.
Obviously there’s firsts I can’t remember. First christmas, first tooth lost, things like that. I sort of remember learning to ride a bike, but not clearly enough that it warrants a section in this post. The sad thing is, these made me feel so good at the time. These were things I’d never accomplished, that I wanted to accomplish, and I finally managed to and I felt fantastic about it. But then, the firsts stop coming. There stop being firsts. I’d like to get married, have some kids, buy a house. The first kid. The first house. New firsts. But who knows what my future holds, or if I even have one. Who knows if I’ll ever experience another first again. The reason I think we so strongly hold onto the past, to the concept of nostalgia is because of the firsts. These made life exciting. These made it feel like we’d progressed. But, when you run out of firsts, you stagnate.
But even worse than realizing that I’m out of firsts, or may never experience a first again, is the realization that one day there’ll be a last. That one day will be the last day I wake up. The last day I read. The last day I eat. I try not to let this ruin the whole idea, I try to instead focus on the idea of firsts, but it’s hard when your brain is so conditioned to only think of endings and not continuations. I wonder what the last thing I’ll ever say will be. I wonder who will be the last person I say it to. I know, too, that one day will be the last time I post here. I don’t know when that day will be, but it’ll happen eventually.
And whereas firsts and lasts give bookends, checkpoints to life, things to move beyond. It’s that section in the middle, all the nothingness, that I can’t stand. That’s the part that bothers me most. That’s the part I want to end.
I’m Maggie. I’m a writer/artist. If you like this thing I made, you might like some other things I make, like my depressing webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, the satirical online newspaper of “Nowhere, US”, or my podcast “Coping With Tonal Shifts In Reality” . You can also donate to my PayPal or support my work at Patreon, where you’ll get access to patron only content and new content early, all for as cheap as a buck a month! Thanks for reading!