Friday, August 8, 2014

True Love's Kiss

{Previously published on my old blog December 2012}
"The course of true love never did run smooth." -- Shakespeare

My first kiss was in kindergarten, my rebellious days.  The teacher had stepped out of the classroom to use the bathroom, and I stood on my desk and pulled James, the boy I alternately loved and hated, onto the desk with me.  He feigned some resistance.

"Kiss me, James," I declared.  "Kiss me right now." He tried not to, but eventually gave me a quick peck on the lips.  I sat down triumphantly, just in time to not be caught by the teacher.  It wasn't love, though.  Turned out he was just a frog.

And I'd kissed a few frogs by that cold December night some eleven years later.  Not literally frogs, of course, and definitely not awful human beings.  Just guys that were definitely Not The One -- that I'd kissed, to be honest, just for the sake of saying I had.  Only one kiss had ranked as Really Nice, but it was, as Bon Jovi once sang, "a first kiss good-bye," and that good-bye was of my own choosing.

Ever since our first date, though I wasn't sure I could really call it that, Matt and I had been spending at least some part of almost every day together.  Sometimes we'd go for walks together, sometimes to a movie, but often, we just sat somewhere and talked for hours.  On our second "date," he had wrapped his arms around me before I got into my car, and I swore to myself that I'd never forget the light fragrance of soap as I leaned against his warm shoulder.  A couple weeks later, he was with some friends when I drove over to his house, and in front of them all, he (very purposefully, I thought) took my hand, and said, "See you later, guys.  We're going out."  He used the word "we" and held my hand.  This had to mean something... didn't it?

What new and confusing territory for me.  He was, after all, a college guy -- soooo mature and just humoring my silly crush.  I'd only ever gone out with guys my age, and there was always a certain procedure: glances exchanged, followed by purposeful glances with smiles, followed by messages being sent either via notes or friends that we "like-liked" each other and wanted to "go out," followed by a distinct yes or no, followed by a new set of protocol that was involved in calling each other "boyfriend and girlfriend."

That spring, things had been a little different.  There was a frog I kissed, and then he asked if we wanted to go out and I said yes, and we spent time together that I didn't enjoyed much, and then... he dumped me.  Very nicely, of course, in the driveway of my parents' house, as he promised that we'd "still be friends."

Yeah, right.  No thanks.

And the "relationships" I'd had since then were also mildly confusing -- "going out" as in actually going somewhere, but not necessarily being boyfriend/ girlfriend.  But this was entirely new -- head-spinning, heart-pounding, palm-sweating territory where I really wanted to get it all just right, but I didn't even know what that was.

We'd sit together on the weekend evenings, talking in his car that was parked in front of my house, and our heads leaning closer and closer together... I'd admire that gentle slope at the corner of his eyes, his long lashes, his lips.  My breath would catch in my throat and I'd think, "This is it, he's going to kiss me."  And then... nothing.  Just... nothing.

"Does he like me?!?!" I cried to my friend Heather at lunch.  "I don't get it!  Everything seems just right, but he doesn't kiss me."

She shrugged.  "Maybe he just wants to be friends."

Ugh.  Friends.  I didn't want to be friends.

School ended, and it was my sister's birthday, six days before Christmas.  But she had her own plans, and that night I went out with Matt.  We saw a movie and had a great time, and he walked me to my parents' door as he always did.  He hugged me, like he always did, and then, just like that, his lips were on mine.  He was kissing me!!!  He was finally, really, truly, yes, kissing me!!!

And I...  I thought, He's kissing me and I'm just standing here.  And for reasons I still don't understand, I did the dorkiest thing ever.  I clamped my lips shut in a tight line, pulled my head back, spun around and said, "Well, good night!" before going inside.

I closed the front door and leaned my back against it, my heart beating wildly.  My parents were already in bed, just down the hall, but I still jumped up and down -- as quietly as I could.  He kissed me, he kissed me!!!  It's my sister's birthday, but I got the best present ever!!! Matt kissed me!!!!  And then I remembered... I just slammed the door on his face.

I looked through the peephole, but he was gone.  I might never see him again.  We might not even be friends.  I am an idiot!!!!!

I slinked off to bed and somehow fell asleep.  The next morning, I got up and poked around the house, wondering if I should call him, or if he would call me.  If I called him, he might hang up on me.  He had every reason to.  What was I thinking?!

But finally I punched the numbers on the phone, and after two rings, he picked up.  "Hey!" he said, in a voice that was a million times nicer than I'd expected it to be.

"Hey," I said.  "So... I've got some errands to run and some Christmas shopping to finish, and I was just wondering if you want to come with me."  I said all that in about two seconds flat, then sharply inhaled again, waiting.

"Yeah, sure!  That sounds great!"

I cheered silently.

It was a wonderful, magical day -- insignificant in most ways, except that I was with him.  That night we went out to dinner and then to the movie theater and saw Dumb and Dumber and laughed until we cried.  He walked me to my door again, and my cheeks hurt from smiling so much all day.

"I'm going down to my mom's tomorrow, you know.  For Christmas," he said, and I nodded.  "And I just want you to know, these past few weeks have been... the best.  You are... really, really special to me."  I kept smiling and nodding.  Finally, oh-so-eloquently, I said, "You too... to me.  You're special."  And I'm an idiot!

He hugged me and I tried to make the moment last as long as I could without it being awkward.  Then he turned with a wave and walked down the sidewalk.  I waved too.  The night had been just perfect.  Only one thing would make it better...

"Hey!" I heard my voice, but I had no idea what I was doing.  He stopped and turned with a half-smile, as if he knew what I was going to say.  "Hey... ummm... remember what you did last night?"  He nodded silently and was still smiling.  He might say no, might leave me standing there looking like the idiot I surely was, but for some reason, I had to say it.  "Want to try that again?"

He didn't say anything, but strode toward me quickly, and then, just like that, gave me the world's most perfect kiss.  Honestly.  Angels sang.  There were fireworks -- and confetti and rose petals -- somewhere, I'm sure.  But even if not, and it was just him and me on a cold and foggy night in December, standing on the steps of my parents' very ordinary house, there has never been a kiss to match it.  Then he walked down the steps and I floated inside...

Sometimes when I look around and wonder how on earth I got here -- this home full of crazy laughter  and tears and dancing and screaming and dogs that think they can sing and messes that seem far too deep -- I remember that kiss.  Because it was the first time I realized that true love is not about things always being perfect, but rather about trying again -- even if it means you're going to look like a fool -- until you get it.  Just.  Right.

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