It seems like we all have a fascination with firsts. We carry fond memories of the first time we rode our bikes or flew on an airplane. There are all sorts of emotions tied up in firsts, most of them include excitement and adrenaline but some of them include heavier emotions like pain, suffering and disappointment. Up to a certain point in my life many of my firsts were all enveloped in guilt and shame and lies. I don’t remember my first lie, but I know that I became imposingly good at it. It felt quite natural to string together a delightful sounding phrase to confuse or distract whomever I was duping.
I did just that the night I had my first kiss. I told the boy I wanted to kiss that he had to help me finish a scavenger hunt, that I had to find the cutest boy at camp and kiss him for ten seconds. He obliged even though we were in front of campers and counselors and he was 5 years my senior. I was quite surprised that my lips felt tingly and even more surprised when I felt his tongue touch mine. I found that to be weird and a little disgusting but I played along like I knew this whole charade backwards and forwards. When a counselor approached to break up our little love fest (after all it was a Christian camp) I spouted off another lie blaming a giggling group of nearby girls for daring me to commit such a scandalous act.
The truth is I didn’t know those girls and I didn’t even know the name of the boy I had just kissed. I didn’t have a scavenger hunt to accomplish nor did anyone dare me but I did know that my older sister had a crush on him and that she had just seen the whole thing. So when someone asks about my first kiss I say it was a boy at camp mainly because the only thing I remember now is that he wore a neon green backwards baseball cap and had bad breath. It was as unromantic as my second kiss which occurred in the middle of the dance floor on homecoming night my freshman year of high school. I assured my date that he was the fourth or fifth boy I’d kissed and I made sure all my friends saw our sloppy session during “Amazed.”
I continued this trend of deceit with many firsts that followed my first (or second) kiss. The first time I slept with someone and the first time I drank too much I pretended like I was a seasoned veteran and I recounted the stories like they were normal occurrences. All those firsts were a train wreck, a desperate attempt at social integration and acceptance but there is one first I’ll never forget. A first that makes all other firsts pale in comparison. I’ll never forget the first time I felt loved. There was no shame or deception, no lies and no plea for acceptance, just love. There was adrenaline and joy, excitement and anticipation and for the first time I didn’t have to be anybody but me.