Encounter with the past

When I was 19 I started my second year in Art School where I was following photography.
A newcomer in the first year, Anna C., became my first girlfriend.
Her parents were very rich, owning a Jaguar and a Porsche and Anna had a horse. Her father, a CEO, disliked me but tolerated my presence; her mother was a very good cook

Anna had a small face buried in lots of black hair and what was left was hidden behind big and thick glasses. We never did much, sexually speaking. A lot of kissing, a few occasional fondling with her breasts and I remember fingering twice. She never played with me, never showed any interest in my body. What I do remember though, on a few occasions, while grooming her horse with a currycomb, the animal got an erection and she liked to caress it.
When I left school we broke up and I never saw her again.

Slowly my memories of Anna C. got buried under dust and finally she disappeared completely out of my mind.

Now more than 3 decades have gone by since we said goodbye for the last time.

Some six months ago I got a Facebook friend request from Fred C. living in the same village were Anna used to live. There was no photograph attached to his profile.
I remembered Anna having a sister, no brother though and the name Fred didn’t ring a bell. I didn’t accept nor reject the invitation, just waited to see what would happen next.

Fred finally sent me a private message. I replied and got a long answer back.
Apparently Anna got married and gave birth twice, a boy and a girl. Anna wrote me how over the years she had come to struggle more and more with her sexual identity and decided to undergo complete transgender surgery. It had been hard, difficult and painful but he felt happy now and his kids had accepted him and his partner had stayed faithfully at his side.
Wow I thought. And that was all I could say or think.

Two weeks ago I took Little A., my youngest daughter, to the annual Antwerp Book fair.
She was browsing through some books; I was waiting patiently when suddenly I heard my name called.
“Franco? Franco, is that really you?”
I turned around and did not recognize the middle-aged man standing in front of me. He was getting bald and had a long grey beard and behind small glasses his eyes were shining joyfully.
Automatically I shook his hand.
“I’m Fred,” he said, “and it is so nice to see you again.”

I’m known to be very to the point, and it is hard to sweep me from my feet, but boy, I was standing there as if I had been frozen. I didn’t know what to say or where to look. It felt awkward, uncanny, strange, unsettling.

Finally I met his eyes and saw Anna in them.
“What a surprise,” I said and that was it and we where left with some minutes of painful silence.

We said once again goodbye and I watched him walk away still feeling completely flabbergasted.

Little A. brought me back to reality.
“Who was that?”
“My first love,” I told her.

Her jaw felt open, her eyes almost popped out of her head and I could almost see her thinking, my father!!! With a MAN?

I smiled and told my 12-year old daughter in a few words the story. She nodded, didn’t say much, just accepting it.

We enjoyed a pleasant afternoon, Little A. and I, although I was unable to wipe this encounter away and my minds eye focused all the time on Fred’s face.

Don’t get me wrong on this. I am really very broad-minded and accept almost everything. People are all different and this versatility is fascinating. I do no judge or condemn people. I’m happy Anna found a solution, that she is happy and that her close relatives didn’t let her/him go.
Yet, seeing your first sweetheart back as a man, it felt so strange.

Later that evening Princess dropped by and she noticed that I was feeling uneasy. I told her about my brief encounter, she already knew the rest of the story.

Princess took me in her arms and softly blew away my unpleasant thoughts.

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