Katie, Sara and Rene came over to my house one afternoon. We were 7th graders and I wasn’t sure if the girls had already kissed any boys, but I sure hadn’t and I was very much in love with Rene all through first semester. We were on summer break and I was home alone so we sat around talking about other people from class and watching MTV.
Eventually, we played a little game of “dare” because we had no time to fuss with any truths. Rene and I were set on finally kissing each other, though I had no idea what the mechanics were at all. All the teen dramas were still not enough to prepare me for the moment.
I had a small walk-in closet in my room and we quickly turned it into a smooching station that day. It eventually became the preferred spot for most of my friends’ lip locking activities well into the following school year. We turned the light off and Katie and Sara crouched in the corner to count to thirty for us. I leaned in and we pressed our lips together and held them there for as long as I could stand it.
It was terrifying for me to finally kiss the boy who meant the most to me at that moment. I still remember his tan skin and slicked back hair. I loved him most for his impeccable manners and he was the only boy welcomed to my all-girl parties that year.
But what was supposed to be a sweet and memorable day took a strange turn, because Katie and Sara also took turns kissing Rene. I remember leaving the closet to sit by my front door where I crouched against the sofa and refused to speak to any of them. Eventually they all left and I was unsure how to even feel about my closest friends kissing my crush.
Because we attended year-round schools, some of us remained on the same calendar and others were switched to a different schedule. I no longer had Rene in any of my classes but I still saw him sometimes as we passed each other in the halls or crossed paths during lunch, unless his particular calendar put him on vacation. I remember us saying hi to each other a few times until we sort of became strangers.
I didn’t think about our first kiss again until the day I learned he died. An old friend had gotten word that he’d passed away a few years ago and after a bit of MySpace sleuthing, I found his wife’s profile and got in touch with her. She told me that what he thought was back pain turned out to be prostate cancer and about a month after being diagnosed, he was gone at age 25.
Every now and then, I come across some old pictures. People ask, “What happened to so-and-so?” It feels like I’m making a sick joke when I say, “Oh, he died.” It does feel a little strange to think about the boy who was my first kiss because that’s just how I always remember him. Even when I recall the way his voice changed in high school and how much taller he got, he’s stuck in time when I look at our middle school pictures.
Featured Image via DeviantArt