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First Kiss

November 28, 2009

Today I announced on Facebook that any question asked of me during the next 24 hours would be answered honestly, no matter what the question was. Although the period of unrestrained honesty doesn’t start until 8 a.m. tomorrow, a question arrived in my inbox which I wanted to respond to tonight. Maybe because it struck a chord, or maybe because I thought it would help motivate others into sending me their own questions. When one of my friends saw what I had posted on my profile, she asked me why and then warned me that I was only inviting trouble. I’m not sure I could be ready for every question, but as I think about it I’m starting to wonder if this might be the solution I’ve sought for almost a decade.

There is so much that I want to say about my life and experiences, but up until now I’ve had a hard time capturing any of it in words. Now, I have a question which has asked about one aspect of my past. By doing so, its helped me focus on just that one aspect.

The question is:

who was the first girl you ever made out with?

A long time ago, before I was a father, a husband, or a graduate, I met a girl on the school bus who would forever change the course of my life. Her name was Merinda, and she was in the eighth grade. I, on the otherhand, was a Freshman in high school, although I never really saw the age difference as a problem. The fact that we went to two different schools (she was in the middle school, and I was in high school) did create an interesting challenge. We saw each other in the afternoon during the bus ride home and on the weekends, but seldomly during the school day.

My favorite thing was to go together on bike rides. Since neither of us could drive, the bike was a primary mode of travel when the circumstances were good, otherwise we were driven back and forth by parents. We also went out on dates to the movies, or we hung out at each others’ house. Merinda usually beat me at games of fuzeball or Mario Bros., depending on what we were playing that day. I would show the stories I wrote to Merinda, and she would read them. This meant a great deal to me.

We wrote and exchanged letters with each other during the week so we could stay in touch while we were at different schools. We’d write about our families or interesting things that happened to us during class. Between the notes, bus rides home from school, the time we spent together on the weekends, we quickly became best friends.

That fall I took Merinda to the Homecoming Dance. It was slightly against the rules for an eighth grader to attend a high school function, but we risked it anyways and somehow managed to pull it off. Mostly, I think that we were just lucky that Mrs. Faust, my ninth grade english teacher, was working the registration table that night.

Our friendship continued on the next school year. You’d think that things would have gotten better once we could see each other every day at school, but unfortunately it didn’t. At first, it was a good thing, but in a way it took away some of the charm of the relationship. Plus, I was having a very hard time with my classes that year. Merinda confronted me about not talking to her enough, but I was too moody to really talk about it. There was a point when I knew I needed to stop seeing her, but I didn’t have the guts to say anything about it. By my Sophomore year, so much of my life was focussed around my relationship with Merinda that I couldn’t stand to end it.

Where does kissing fit into the story? We did kiss after a long period of getting to know each other. Our first kiss was more about seeing what it was like than an expression of feelings. I can’t be sure, but we might have been influenced by the kids who teased us about never showing affection on the best. I do happen to have a transcript of our first kiss. Not the kiss itself, which would only have been captured in words such as “snook, snook, pucker, snoook,” (Or, perhaps “xoxoxxx”) but the dialogue which preceded the kiss.

You see, we were sitting together in front of my computer silently writing messages to each other when the subject of kissing came up (I can’t remember who mentioned it first, but I could find out) and eventually I asked her via the computer if I could kiss her. She replied that I could, and the rest is history. I’m not ashamed to say now that Merinda was the first girl that I kissed, although back then we tried to kiss when nobody else was watching. We’d go for walks passed the end of her road, for example, and then exchange a kiss. In the morning before band class started, we kissed in the instrument locker room. It was exhilarating to kiss her, and also rather salty.

As they say, too much of anything can be bad, and after a while we began kissing just for the sake of kissing. The kisses began to lose their charm much like the rest of our relationship. Combine that with the stresses of school and being a teenager, and it is easy to see why things happened the way that they did. At the time, though, I was devastated when Merinda broke up with me. I’m actually a little hazy about when she broke up with me, but I do remember seeing her walking with her new boy friend in the halls. There might actually have been a note involved, the day before we left for Toronto for a week long Band trip. Yes, Merinda and I were in band together, but during that week I felt the most alone and very jealous watching them doing everything together.

It hurt so bad that I felt like she had left me forever. What I didn’t understand–and what I wish I had realized back then–was that there was nothing wrong with becoming “just friends.” Looking back, maybe our relationship was meant to evolve to a point where we could be there for each other without being so inseperatable. My tragic mistake was not being a person who was big enough to look past the feelings of rejection and see the value of staying friends. Merinda wanted to be friends; she often gave me birthday or Christmas cards during those last two years that I was in high school. I felt so awkward I didn’t really know how to respond.

That summer of 1993 when I graduated from high school, I had the choice of inviting Merinda to my graduation open house, but still felt too awkward to do it. A couple of weeks later, Merinda died in a car crash.

I think it was inevitable for us to break up, but I often think about the time I wasted by not just talking to her and trying to remain friends. For me, an even bigger mystery is why she had to die instead of going on to be a math teacher like she wanted.

Thanks to Merinda, I gained a great deal more confidence in myself and learned that a relationship should be based on friendship first, and physical connections later. Of course, as a married adult now I know that its the friendship which sustains us. No relationship can be sustained by kisses alone, especially during cold season.

Posted via web from The Rambler

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