Some people wait for the mail ritually, gathering at the post office after the mail van arrives. They are in no hurry and talk about the weather and about the folks that come and go as soon as the door closes and they’ve come and went.
One day I walked in just behind a local woman, someone my own age with whom I recalled a long-ago intimate encounter, the memory of which had faded into obscurity but which now flowered into the fullness of a warm recollection which easily overtook both me and my typically dormant better judgment.
Unable to restrain neither myself nor the fond re-awakening, I burst forth nearly giddy with affection and good will. “You know,” I announced to the regulars and pointing to her as she headed for the door, “that beautiful woman was the first girl I ever kissed.”
She turned her head to follow his vehicle with her gaze and to wonder at his unsolicited enthusiasm…
She blushed and rushed to assure everyone within earshot that she “remembers nothing of the kind” but does recall that I was a troublesome kid.
I recall though. We sat on the sloping ledge behind the gym. We each embraced our own drawn up knees. Our arms afforded some modesty as we talked about marriage and then about kissing, which we knew, from having watched our folks, had a lot to do with it.
We talked about how we’d have a house and a family and ventured that we loved one another, then we let go of our knees and stood up. We put our arms on each other’s shoulders and maneuvered a little to be sure of our footing (the ledge sloped considerably).
With our eyes wide open, to better enjoy the wonder of the moment, we kissed. Her fingers were cold where they touched my neck. So were her lips. My lips were not cold. My heart or something that felt like where it should have been leapt around somewhere in my chest, nearer my stomach actually.
The kiss only lasted a moment. It was too exciting to sustain but we remained in close proximity and looked at one another cross-eyed. We rose and walked to the street holding hands and full of wonder.
We stopped before crossing the street and I began to impart another kiss but just then my Uncle Vic drove by honking his horn to applaud my style. She turned her head to follow his vehicle with her gaze and to wonder at his unsolicited enthusiasm as I kissed her hair and part of an ear as it all passed through my lips.
She gave me a warm look, a bashful acknowledgement or sorts. She touched my hand shyly then held it. I expect she wanted another kiss, but Uncle Vic had left us suddenly feeling awkward and self-conscious. She squeezed my fingers and headed home cradling my heart. It was all she could carry.
I continued down the hill, across the bridge. People watching knew I was not the same boy who’d gone up the hill earlier. I had no feet, for example and glided noiselessly by. And, of course, I had no heart for, as everyone knows, a young boy moving with no feet has had his heart stolen.
I told my parents about our plans, about where we would live, the number of kids we expected and, finally, watching them closely, I told them about the kiss. They listened closely and seriously, God bless them and I knew I was on solid ground.
I’ll never forget that afternoon, although it might not have been her after all. It might have been her sister.
This story has been memorialized in an adorably illustrated (by Simon Deschamps) little book—My First Kiss—available at the Island Institute’s Archipelago store or by contacting the author at: firstname.lastname@example.org.