2.12 Late bloomer

*In which I recount my first kiss, among other things. Curl up. It’s a doozie.

Last night after The Skinny, a few of us went to Big Whiskey’s and ate some delicious cheese fries. (Real good. Dammit, being vegan-ish is tough!) We ended up swapping first kiss stories, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn we all reached this milestone sometime in high school. At the time when mine finally happened, I was 17, and I felt like the Last Person On Earth.

But I was a little bit of a late bloomer in many ways. I didn’t get chicken pox until 5th grade. By that age, everyone I knew had had c-pox long ago, so we figured I had some sort of immunity to it. Not so. I volunteered to read to a kindergarten class, and soon enough I had these little boils popping up. The first was under my lip, and I thought it was my first zit. (cute, right?) But then there were more. And in places people couldn’t see. I remember standing in the shower, terrified, convinced that I’d contracted some sort of biblical disease (since they all feature boils of some sort) and was doomed.
Turned out it was just chicken pox. No big deal.

So many big milestone-y things we’re so afraid of can turn out to be No Big Deals, huh? So back to the first subject: my first kiss.

Now, this person and I have an epic history, full of Things He Did & Things I Did, and ending in an atomic-bomb-blast-sized It’s Over over a year ago. Haven’t seen or spoken to him since–which is saying a lot, since this person was in and out of my life from age 17 to 25.

That’s why the movie Blue Valentine was so fascinating but so hard to watch. It flashes back and forth through time from the couple’s meet cute to their miserable present. We’re left pondering, how does that happen? How is it possible that two people who start out so sweetly innocent in love can end up doing such unbelievably gnarly things to each other?

Today let’s just talk about the sweetly innocent part.

Junior Senior

Exhibit A: Grainy PhotoBooth pic of the suspects

My first kiss was in a church parking lot, which horribly inappropriate as it may sound, was absolutely appropriate to my life at the time. I lived & breathed James River Real Life Youth Ministries my junior year of high school. I was on the drama team. I showed up to early prayer time and to small groups in parents’ basements with devotional time and Doritos. (Oh we were those kids, you guys. Real deep into See You at The Pole and shit.)

As the annual Junior-Senior Banquet approached, I didn’t have anyone to go with. I’d heard a rumor that one particular dude was going to ask me, and this was definitely a too-nice-to-say-no situation. I had to act fast. So I called Jason. (Yes, I asked him. And yes, that’s his real name.) He told me later he was surprised that I’d asked him and surprised that we talked on the phone for so long afterwards. I have no idea what about, but surely it was something to do with movies. This was the start of many phone conversations, followed soon by handwritten notes. (Kid was verbose. And these were the days before Facebook.) Oh for high school & handwritten notebook paper notes! I remember one, in which he was no doubt consoling me after a fight with my parents over some adolescent atrocity, which concluded with, “you’re far too pretty to be sad.”

Murder me.

So we went to the church-sponsored not-prom together, he and I. I wore a blue strapless dress and he wore a coordinating yellow shirt and a tie with cartoon characters on it. He was funny. He was also smart. A basketball player. High school theatre star. A bit of a bad boy, as much as one can be and still be a Good Kid.

In a word: trouble.

I don’t remember the exact circumstances of the night we kissed. It was a week or so after Jr/Sr. I imagine I had to be home early (such was my plight in those days) and was mourning not getting to hang out with everyone. I remember he walked me to my car. It was May. One of those gorgeous spring Ozarks nights. He walked me to my minivan (because sometimes Mom would trust me to drive myself, but not in my car). And we hugged goodbye.

A moment of silence for the HUG. You guys. When it’s good it is so, so good. And this hug was good. He was wearing one of those vintagey Abercrombie t-shirts (it was 2001, remember). Very snugglable. I remember my hands on the small of his back. When you’re hugging a 17-year-old basketball player, this is not a bad place for your hands to be. (Well, it is NOW. You know what I mean.)

And I remember knowing that he didn’t know I’d never kissed anyone. And I wasn’t about to tell him when I moved in for the kill. (I MADE THE FIRST MOVE YOU GUYS, WHAT?!)

And there it was. Warmer & sloppier than I had imagined. But nice. I could see what all the fuss was about. Thinking about it now, I get a little squishy. Warm nostalgia spreads around my heart like India ink dropped in water.

Almost 10 years ago now. Hm.

So to help us recover from all that sweetness, here’s an another absolutely gorgeous song & video from the All Songs Considered breakup show. Stars “Your Ex-Lover is Dead” (c’mon!) It’s just deliciously cold. Please, wallow in it with me. It’s nothing but time and a face that you lose…

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3 thoughts on “2.12 Late bloomer

  1. “Warm nostalgia spreads around my heart like India ink dropped in water.”

    Heart swelling….. then empty.

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