First Kiss

It's 1996. I have a silly bowl haircut, a Jansport backpack and sagging, baggy, corduroy jeans. And though I can frequently be seen carrying a skateboard, I am terrible. Truly, sadly, terrible. A year into skating, I can barely ollie. I've got a tiny body and braces. Puberty is a long way off. I've practiced Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on my $100 guitar every day for a month and can't seem to get the picking right. My two friends and I are discovering punk rock and hoarding the bands to ourselves so we don't seem like posers, the most devastating insult our world permits. We eat Doritos everyday. My speech patterns consist primarily of references to Pauly Shore movies and laughing like Beavis and Butthead.

And yet, that year I kissed a girl. This is the story of my first kiss.

We had art class together. At thirteen, I'm not sure I had any pretensions of being an artist or gave a shit about art in general. I know I was bad at it. A decade and a half later I still can't draw, sculpt, or paint. But I liked talking to her. I'd never had a girlfriend. Until that point, I had contented myself spending recess with Josh sitting on top of a big green electrical box arguing about super heroes. I hung out with the kids who smoked even though I didn't. I liked their bands better than the ones kids who didn't smoke listened to. Still do. But I remember thinking she was a knockout... and out of my league.

She was intense, wore leather pants, had short blonde hair and dressed sexier than any of the other girls at school, which I'm sure speaks volumes about my current preferences. It occurs to me that sexy and beautiful are not the same. It is possible to be beautiful without being sexy and vice versa. She was both in a big way. For reference, I had just stopped wearing sweat pants to school because my Dad made me. 

I remember she transfered to my school mid-year. Everyone talked about her. Guys liked her and girls liked talking shit about her. You can't dress that way and not have teenagers make it news. But for some reason she talked to me during art class. I never questioned why, just welcomed my good luck. In case you think I'm being self deprecating, I've included a photo of myself from the year in question. 

It never went beyond talking. We never went to a movie; I never even had her phone number, even though I had my own teen line. Such a shame. I was good on the phone. Then, as quickly as she came into my life, her family decided to move to California.

It happened suddenly. She kept a list of things she needed to do before leaving. I asked if I could help, and she said no. Wouldn't even show me the list. I sat in seventh period knowing today would be the last time I ever saw her. I think I wanted to kiss her, but the thought was so distant, it didn't even have a definite shape. I might as well have wanted to fly to the moon. Where do you even start? It was too late. I had missed my opportunity, even though I had no chance. The bell rang and we left class. I lingered to walk her to the bus. I said something you'd sign in a yearbook and said my last goodbye. 

As I turned to walk away, she quietly said my name. When I turned to her, I saw her books slip through her arms. Her eyes were set on mine. She grabbed my shirt with both hands, pulled me in, and tongue kissed me. Thirty seconds lasted a lifetime. Then she grabbed her things, turned and walked away. No words. The kiss spoke for her. 

It was the last thing on her list. 

In a daze, I boarded my bus. My face went numb and every part of my body tingled. I wore a grin that showed my molars and it didn't leave my face for hours. I didn't eat or drink for the rest of the day. I wanted to keep the kiss on my lips forever. It didn't matter that I never saw or heard from her again. That moment was perfect. 

Thank you for being braver than I was, CM. You set the bar high. I have tried to be brave ever since.    

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