The first boy I French kissed was Rob.
I was in seventh grade, and I wore a white shirt with blue trim, sailor hat and a red mini-skirt. He was my boyfriend. I think we dated for a few weeks. In my seventh grade yearbook, under his name, I wrote how long we lasted. I wrote our names in a heart. I wonder if I used erasable ink. I don't know where that yearbook is now; probably on the bottom shelf of my bookcase and dusty.
It was the end of the day. The hallways were full of everyone going to their lockers and getting on buses home. He pulled me into a corner. The cinder block partial wall protected us from the rush. I was scared I didn't know what to do. I never kissed a boy. I practiced kissing on my arm, but that was my sum total experience of a grown up kiss. He didn't know that.
Rob leaned down and instinct kicked in.
Then it was quiet. Not a "the world is shut out by our connection" quiet. It was "the halls were completely empty and we had to run for the buses" kind of quiet. I liked having to run for my bus.
The next boy I kissed and remember was Simon. It was the summer before ninth grade. He was my first and only summer romance. Five of us hung out together, and I'm not sure why he picked me, but I was glad he did.
I found out he liked me as more than a friend at a pool party. I wore a black and white polka dot swimsuit. It was half white with black dots and half black with white dots. It had a v-neck. I thought it was low-cut. I wore a t-shirt over it. I was in the hallway of Gregg's house near the front door when someone told me Simon was going to ask me out.
I was wet and worried about not being as pretty as Debbie and wondering why all the girls wore shirts over our bathing suits. Simon shook his head when he spoke and laughed, to keep hair out of his bright pale blue eyes. I liked being around him. I liked that he liked me.
We made out all summer. I was an innocent girl. Scared to do much else but kiss. But I loved kissing. He'd kiss me on the beach, all salt and grit. He'd kiss me on the side of my house near the rose bushes or the big rock so Mom couldn't see us. He made sure to kiss me goodbye every time he walked me home. And I was nervous and excited each and every walk.
My favorite kiss with Simon was in a Jacuzzi. My parents installed a Jacuzzi in and every year at the end of school I'd have a Jacuzzi party. No matter how my popularity waned during the year, by the end, I was everyone's friend.
It felt awesome to have a boyfriend and a party. The jets were loud, the water was warm and everyone was wedged next to each other. We were making out in the crowded Jacuzzi. Journey's "Faithfully" played. His arms were around me, his hands held me as he leaned over. I was more under water than above. Our tongues were young and happy. I could have stayed like that all night.
"Holly. Hollllly. HOLLY! Where are you?" Mom called
Simon dove under the water from embarrassment. Mom was standing above us.
"Oh, there you are," Mom said.
Remembering that moment makes me smile for lots of reasons.
I'm glad I never kissed Tom. He was one year older than me, extremely popular and cute. Rumor was he did circles with his tongue. I used to fantasize about kissing him and messing him up by doing circles in the opposite direction. Years after I moved, I ran into him. I was older and less impressed with his beauty. He asked me to meet him in a park. I couldn't believe it. The younger me would have gone. The older teenaged me was like, meet you at the park and what exactly? I still thought about the circles his tongue could make. I told him I'd meet him, but I didn't go. I wonder if he went.
When I was 17 years old, I kissed Ted. He was six years older than me. My parents were not happy we were dating. Mom used to flirt with him when she bought her coffee at 7-11. Ted blushed the first time he picked me up and saw who my mother was.
One day we drove down to the beach. It was winter. We were alone in the parking lot. We didn't know each other that well.
Ted saw a picture of me a friend had. He asked her to introduce us. Otherwise we would've never met. I was in high school and he had a job. I knew it was improbable. I knew he'd want more than I could give. But there was something about the way he called me Angel. How he looked into my eyes and saw my self-doubt. He talked to me like I was a person. His voice was soft and assertive. He made me feel seen.
He picked me up from school and drove me home to spend time with me. We couldn't hang out too long. He parked his mustang to face the roaring white winter waves of the sound. He kept the car running so we wouldn't get cold. Depeche Mode's "Stripped" came on the radio. We each leaned over toward each other.
Ted's full lips and breath tasted erotic. Everything about him smelled enticing to me. I wasn't ready for him. But I was curious. I knew he could teach me things. Things I was dangerously close to finding out. Things I was too young to own. My body wanted to slide beneath him and my mind knew I should run.
The words to the song on the radio called out to me. Called me to him and it was as if they were singing to us. Steam fogged the windows. That kiss was the first time I understood desire on a level I couldn't physically process. I didn't need to breathe because I was joined with him. I didn't need to see because our hearts beat at the same time gaining speed. We had a physical rhythm. I wanted more. He knew my thoughts and he would know my body.
I pressed into him and he pressed into me. And when the song ended and we pulled apart, looked into each other's eyes and said, "Wow."
Paul was in town on business and called me. It started with a hug. He'd been a friend for eight years. A buddy. He dated a girl I used to know and it had been years since she and I were friends and longer since I'd seen him. The first time I met him was on my wedding day.
I got divorced.
Years later Paul hugged me at the bottom of the steps in a bar in Denver near the bathrooms. He held on longer and squeezed tighter than he ever had.
I drove him home, confused by his touch. It sparked something in me. A chemical reaction I hadn't expected.
I pulled up to his hotel room and put my car in park.
"You could come up," he said.
"But I won't." I smiled.
The idea was tempting but I wasn't in the mood to be left.
He said goodbye but kept looking at me. He came closer and closer. My stomach was out of control. My surprise ping-ponged in my mind. He kissed me. And it wasn't a nice good-night kiss. It was a promise. It was fire and combustion and heat and all the best things a kiss should be.
His quiet facade peeled away and he let me see the desire he had. He let his curiosity show.
I started laughing. Really. Hard.
He thought I thought kissing him was funny. It was shock.
"I can't believe I'm kissing you," I said between giggles.
He kissed me more.
"You must have known."
More tongue. Tempting me.
I didn't want to stop kissing him. I didn't know he had it in him. I didn't know I'd feel this way about him. So much chemistry. His lips were soft. His kiss, powerful.
"That I always liked you," he said.
"I had no idea."
I stayed in the car. Instead of being left, that kiss was a beginning.
I miss first kisses. I miss make-out sessions. I miss the longing and curiosity that fade with marriage, bills, litter boxes and children. I miss running my tongue the length of the inside of my bottom lip along the soft wet velvety part that swells after kissing someone. I miss tasting them in my mouth after we part. I miss the chemistry and combustion. I miss the ones with full lips that I'd suck and bite. I miss placing my lips on top of the full ones then talk pretending their mouth was mine. I miss being wanted. I miss kisses.