Remembering his first heartbreak

The basic pleasure of falling in love is invariably accompanied by a wide and vivid range of emotions including but not limited to

Don Ahlquist

The basic pleasure of falling in love is invariably accompanied by a wide and vivid range of emotions including but not limited to apprehension, infatuation, exhilaration, acceptance, sacrifice and sometimes rejection and disappointment.

I am reminded of a line in a Cat Stevens song:

Find a girl, settle down, if you want – you can marry. Look at me I am old but I am happy.

The last word in that line (happy) is what anyone engaged in the process of falling in love  focuses on and hopes for. The intensity of emotion facilitates the construction in your mind of a bliss-filled Kingdom where love conquers all, the sun shines all the time, friends are true, motives pure and you “get” every love song on the radio.

I was the king of that phantasmagoric kingdom and had only one candidate in mind for my queen…Donna. Even saying her name produced near – delirium.

We spent our days at the same institute and lived some distance from each other. I was determined to propose marriage at some point in the near future and decided that I would walk her home on some crystal clear winter day (Dr. Zhivago style) and en route ask her the big question.

There were a few impediments but I was certain that the quality of my genuine affection would outweigh them.

The opportunity to execute my plan presented itself one afternoon in the common area of the institute. She seemed very pleased to accept my offer to escort her home.

At the approximate midpoint of the journey, we were walking by a hockey rink and bolstered by adrenaline, I invited her to take a seat as I had this burning question that had to be answered. She declined my invitation to sit down but I felt that due to the momentous nature of the question and the fact that my legs lacked, at this moment, the structural integrity to support  my weight I decided to sit.

I looked lovingly into her soft brown eyes and said “Will you marry me?”

When she said no, I could hardly believe it. Had she misheard me. No? No…? Did I ask the wrong question? Was I even speaking English? No? What on earth is going on here? My mind reeled in a cascading confluence of words and emotions.  As she turned and walked away, the reality of the rejection hit me like a stone. I knew there were no more fish in the sea and I was destined to live out my days – a solitary man.

Donna’s father was compassionate and understanding. When he heard of my rejected proposal, he sought me out and advised me that if circumstances were different and Donna and I were a few years older with a more mature set of life experiences and viable long-range plans, our chances of success would be much greater. I was encouraged to continue to cultivate a friendship with his daughter, finish grade two and postpone the burdens of married life.