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After dinner last night, we sat down with a good bottle of Lambrusco and did the sister thing: talk, talk, talk. You would think we didn't chat on the phone every week or so. Ah well...it's a girl thing.
My sister was a nanny to two little girls, both from birth until recently. She still does things with them and often has them overnight, but her duties (so to speak) are over now they're both in school. The oldest is 13 and in 8th grade. She had her first kiss last week and couldn't wait to tell my sister. It was a quick peck in the stairwell at school because obviously they're too young to actually date.
When my sister finished the story, we compared notes about our own first kisses and lo and behold, we were also in 8th grade. She was at summer camp and I was at my 8th grade graduation event. Which brought back a ton of memories...
My first true crush was on a boy named Tommy Keller. He was so shy, we never spoke a word to each other the whole school year, though we wrote notes nearly every day. Tommy had a paper route that covered my neighborhood. I used to sit on the front porch reading, though really, I just waited to catch a glimpse of him. One day as he drove by on his bike, he tossed this little tin box in my direction. I didn't know what to think, but I jumped off the porch and scooped it up. Inside was a piece of paper. With instructions. I would write a note, then leave it and the tin under a certain rock in the garden across the street. He would pick it up whilst on his route, write his own note and leave it for me the next day.
It was the most thrilling, exciting thing ever. We shared our secrets and dreams and troubles and wishes. And we did it for the entire school year...without speaking a word. By the time graduation was approaching, we had made a pact to meet behind the gym during the dance after the ceremony. I was a nervous wreck for weeks...I could hardly breathe just thinking about it.
We made eye contact during the dance then he left the gym and went out the back door. My cue. I could barely hear the music over my pounding heart. I pushed on the bar, the door opened, and I stepped out into the gloaming of an early June evening. Tommy stared at me, I stared at him. Neither of us knew quite what to do. Then he stepped toward me, put his hands on my shoulders, and leaned in.
Holy crap, just remembering that exquisite, torturous anticipation makes my heart race.
His lips were surprisingly soft, the kiss tentative, unsure...and over in the blink of an eye. We looked at each other for a long moment, then he smiled. I can still see that sweet-boy smile in my mind as I write this. Before we could figure out what to do next, one of the teachers came out the door for a smoke and chased us back inside.
We kept up our tin box correspondence for awhile, but by mid-Summer Tommy's family moved away, somewhere back East. In his last note to me he promised to write. I'm still waiting.
I think a first kiss is monumental and forever carved in a young girl's heart. In my case, perhaps doubly so: I shared a rite of passage with a boy without speaking a single word and yet he knew me like no one else with every tiny piece of paper, folded into a little tin box.
And though you've no doubt kissed many women in your life, Tommy Keller...I was the first. I wonder if you ever think of that night...