First breath. First cry. First kiss first date first time first lady first bank first first first. First day. The days when you sit there and wonder why it isn’t the same as it was the first time, when it was magical and imbued with the thrill of learning that yes—you are confident. Yes, you can do this. Yes, you are loved. You can celebrate every year and listen to the sounds of the wax sobbing into the cake and still. It’s never the same as the first time.
The very first time.
First qualms. Maybe I should turn back. First friend. We can do this together. First name. Heather. A name I used to dislike because her name meant “noble” and mine meant “shrub.” But then comes the takeover and I say to myself “My name is Heather.” The towel falls.
There’s the first time you’re comfortable in your own skin.
First day with a new haircut. First smile—and babies love to smile, and we love to smile back. Like penguins.
First fight, fist fight, black eye I see tonight. You never expect it, you never dream, and then you’re on the floor with a pair of socks and fingernail clippers and you realize how important it is you need to put them away but they’re nice to look at. And it’s nice to know that they’re there to hold, even if you can never hold them for the first time again.
First time you realize you’re going to miss the way the house smells, the lady who lived there, and the cement floor where you ran around with a wheelchair. The smell of sunlight and dust in the kitchen while you felt the heat on your hair. The nightlight reading because it’s too hard to breathe laying down and whatever you do don’t stop.
Tomorrow we try again. But it’s never the same.