I know I have already written about my first kiss. But to be 100% honest it wasn’t exactly my FIRST kiss. It was my first grown up kiss, my first “French” kiss but it wasn’t my actual true life first kiss with a boy. I was recently reminded of this fact by the man who actually DID give me my first kiss. As we reminisced about that fateful event the memories came flooding back and I thought I would chronicle them in case I become fuzzy on the details again in another 17 years.
He was literally the boy next door. Or rather, if you want to nitpick, he was the boy three doors down. After moving back to California the summer before the 7th grade I suddenly found myself friendless and bored. Lucky for me there was a man three doors down who was divorced but had two children who came to spend the summer with him, a boy and a girl who flanked me in age, one year older and one year younger respectively.
Instantly we were inseparable. The girl (we’ll call her T) became like a little sister and, having no siblings of my own, I enjoyed hanging out with her and gossiping about boys and clothes and music. It did not escape my attention that her brother (we’ll call him J) was in fact a boy, and also older, and also he was apparently as interested in me as I was in him. Even blondes can tell those types of things. I’m just saying is all.
I’m not sure how or when it happened… But at some point we became less of a threesome and more of a twosome with a little sister tagging along. They had a mattress in one of their bedrooms which we used to lean against a wall and use as a sort of make-shift slide and general play thing. T would be happily playing and J and I would be much more interested in hiding between the wall and the mattress talking and generally enjoying the new feelings that hormones and youth provided.
One day T called me on it. I can’t remember the exact details of the conversation but it was along the lines of her asking me if I was interested in her brother, me adamantly denying it (I was playing it cool), and her making me promise to never, EVER, date J because that would be “gross”. I remember her use of the word “gross” as clear as day. I think that was the first time I noticed that I had reached the age of boy crazy in earnest (that boy is cute) while she was boy crazy in the abstract (Val Kilmer is cute). But I did promise her I wouldn’t “go out” with her brother and a promise is a promise after all.
The summer progressed as these things do and the three of us made a merry band of thieves. And then one summer night as I went to leave their home for my own, J offered to walk me. A mighty three houses down. The adult me would have seen through that offer in a moment. The teenager in me thrilled at the excitement of being alone with a boy. I remember walking down our street holding hands when he suddenly yanked on my arm to make me stop walking. A move that while not subtle, certainly had the desired effect.
As we stood there in the road, and I grew increasingly embarrassed, he asked me for a kiss. A casual and yet fully loaded question given our 12 and 13 year old ages. I’m pretty sure I muttered something like “ok” or something equally cool and nonchalant. I’m fuzzy on who kissed who after that. I believe he kissed me, hastily, and on the cheek. I don’t recall if I kissed him back. I do remember all of a sudden being supremely nervous and that I practically sprinted home. I'm also fairly certain I was an attractive shade of redish-purple.
My first kiss. That boy J is now a man of 30. We lost touch for many, many years when things like high school and distance and a family tragedy (his) got in the way. I found him though, a few years ago, after years and years of searching, thanks to MySpace. I actually found them both. T is a mother of two adorable boys and lives mere moments from my house though we haven’t been able to get together yet for a much needed reunion. I am a bad friend it seems.
And J. I could list all the minute details I know of his life now but really all that matters is I feel like I’ve found an old friend. After that summer we stayed in touch for years, always getting together when they were in town. One summer they came on a church run youth summer retreat with me. And once we both got to high school we kept in touch via phone, sharing dating trials and tribulations. I always felt a little twinge when he told me about the latest girl and always felt a smidge guilty when discussing my latest boy. It was like we were sullying the memory of that innocent kiss somehow by moving on with life. And then somehow we just stopped calling, stopped talking, and then we were adults and out on our own with lives and jobs and school.
But now that we are both adults we can laugh at the kids we were, at the awkwardness we caused, and now we both (I think) can look back on that summer with something like nostalgia.