Besame! (Kiss me!)

My challenge today is to write about my first love and first kiss. At first, I thought, “Oh, that’s easy!” since my husband was my first date, first boyfriend, kiss, etc. And then, just now, as they often do, a thought snuck up on me.

“What about Michael?”

Oh, yeah. My first fourteen-year-old “love”. I truly believed that I loved this boy. A boy I only saw MAYBE once or twice a year. The son of my mom’s boss, this adorable blonde went to boarding school in Britain and so I only had the opportunity to see him during the summer when we kids worked in the mailroom or maybe on Christmas Eve when I would go to work with my mother for the law firm’s holiday half-day. I first met this boy in the break room one Christmas Eve, as I struggled with a cantankerous soda machine that refused to take my last quarter. There was a tap on my shoulder and a voice with a London lilt spoke.

“Here, I have an extra.”

And I looked up to find something altogether unusual in this office: a boy. I was usually one of the few kids that ever came to spend time at the law firm with a parent so to find him here was odd.

I was at the wonderful age, however, of being stupid around cute boys. So I just uttered smiling “Thank you”, got my soda, and quickly departed the room. Later, I saw him walk by my mom’s office door and asked who he was. She told me that he was her boss’s son, a fact that I found ridiculous because I considered my mother’s boss to be some sort of cold-hearted cyborg who worked my mom abominably hard (apologies, Mr. R, I was a silly kid). That wasn’t the truth, of course, just a child’s perception. But that was my first encounter with Michael and I was adequately twitterpated.

(And, yes, he might actually read this as he is on my Facebook feed but that’s OK. I did say I was going to try to write boldly.)

The following summers, in my mind, were glorious. I would arrive for work in the morning and immediately look to see if there was a package of cookies sitting on the mailroom desk. If so, that meant that Michael was there already and I flew through the building to find the “little Master R.” as the ladies in the office called him. One summer, we left notes for each other on the computer screen saver composed of Romeo and Juliet quotes (like that helped the twitterpation). He was the sweetheart of the building; all the ladies adored him and we hated when it came time for him to go. And for good reason: he was a boy built of a good heart. Growing up the youngest of three, with two sisters above him, Michael was no stranger to the way women worked and he was an especially gentle, kind, and sweet soul. I remember, one year, my last day of work coincided with another lady in the office’s birthday. So, at the end of the day, Michael ran around the office, fetching everyone down to the break room for a “party”. He had bought snacks and cake and it was altogether adorable.

Michael was a cyclical fixture in my life for about three or four years. During high school, of his girlfriends got into his email, read his stuff, and then emailed me, insisting that I stop emailing and writing him because she was his girlfriend, not me. Yeah, that didn’t happen. I did eventually tell him about it, though, a few years later. I watched with pride as his articles were published in his school newspaper and online. When I came home from college and worked at the office my freshman and sophomore summers, Michael would pop in when he came home and take me out to lunch.

For years, I considered Michael to be my first love, cried in my room for the missing of him, and insisted to myself that, yes, you could love someone without them ever knowing or loving you back. Now, almost twenty years later, I see it for what it was: an affection that could admittedly be selfish at times. Lowercase-l love, not capital-L Love. Not that I didn’t care for Michael then or don’t now, oh no! I cared quite a bit. He was my friend and I felt responsible to look out for and take care of him. Where I erred was the perception that he was my Michael, my responsibility. I look at him now as an adult and what he has accomplished and I am so ridiculously proud. We have completely separate lives and don’t speak or see each other hardly ever, but that’s okay. Life is still good.

But, no, I wouldn’t call it capital-L Love. I didn’t even understand that yet.

No, my first Love AND my first kiss was Ben, the young man at whose feet I fell on October 2, 2004. I was late to a Christian Campus House outing for movies and Dairy Queen and so ran across campus to get there before people left. As I arrived, I collapsed, out of breath, on the floor, only to look up and see a guy I had never met looking down at me. I smiled and gave a breathless “Hi!” and he said “hi” in return.

We hardly spoke for the rest of the evening until after the movies.

Then, something happened. We started talking. His weird called to my weird and they tangled up together so that it was hard to say goodnight later. Over the next few weeks, those connections tangled around each other (or rather braided themselves together) to the point that we spent close to nine hours together one evening – coffee, dinner, lecture, ice cream. On October 26, 2004, Ben took me out on my first official date and we have been inseparable ever since.

It turns out that, before the night we met, Ben had actually been trying to speak to me for several weeks. He sat behind me in church services in campus house but, unfortunately, he just wasn’t fast enough to catch me at the end of the morning. Being on a new campus with no friends, I saw no point in sticking around (speaking to strangers on my own has always been hard for me) so I would hurry out. The night we met, neither of us was looking for a romantic connection (God had had long talks with each of us about that right before this) but, as my devotional reminded me this morning, God’s process may be long and painful but His plan is perfect. I met this man, the man I would grow to love (lowercase-l) as the friend I deeply needed and then Love (capital-L) as the partner for the rest of my life.

And the kisses! I’ve written about our first kisses before, my very first. It was November, just before Thanksgiving. Ben was dropping me home from a date and we sat in his car for a long few moments. There were soft words exchanged, what they were I don’t remember, but then there was that moment. That moment that hangs in the air and then pulls at you from right behind the sternum.

Those first kisses were very short but very chaste and sweet and I practically walked on air back to my dorm room afterward, almost forgetting to get off the elevator at my floor. They went like this. Forehead, both eyelids, and then, after a moment’s hesitation, on both mine and Ben’s parts, finally, two short kisses on the lips. Very gentle, very loving, just like him.

I don’t think I would have had it any other way.