My first love was a woman, well, a girl really.
I was 17, she was a year ahead of me at school. She was fun and hilarious and street-smart in a way I wasn’t. An athlete, with that long-limbed lithe body that young athletes have. Full of that kind of careless body confidence that comes from knowing what those limbs and muscles are capable of, and a self awareness that results in a loping casual stride that says ‘don’t give a fuck’.
She was beautiful. Stunning. Perfect.
I can’t remember how or why it happened, really, but she started to hang out with my best friend and me. The two of us were still at school while she was already free of the tedium of it. We all lived close to each other, but even now, I find it odd that she would choose to spend time with us when presumably she had so many more ‘grown up’ things to do. But hang out she did.
The three of us would spend a lot of time together and I admired her in a way that I can’t remember admiring anyone before or since.
I never put a label on those feelings, and in fact I struggled to identify them.
Until one day she and my best friend were doing something together and I couldn’t make it. In the familiar adolescent wash of jealousy, I felt resentful. But when I examined it, it wasn’t the expected ‘Oh geez, my best friend is off doing something fun with someone else’ feeling, it was clearly, ‘Aww man, my best friend gets to spend time with HER’.
I was acutely jealous in a way that I had never experienced before.
Shocking. Unexpected. Revelatory.
She would invite me on her family holidays to the beach. I am not sure now what I thought of ‘why me and not my bestie’ since I actually thought they were closer than we were. I was kind of oblivious that way.
Our accommodation with her family was a caravan with limited space, so we shared a bed.
One night, lying in our bed in the heat of summer under a light sheet, her family around in various beds, she shifted closer to me. We were always ‘touchy’ with each other in the way that young girls are, and I always welcomed it, thought nothing of it.
On this night though, I felt her body press in close and then felt the sigh of her breath on my neck. I froze. Her lips brushed my neck so softly that I thought I must have imagined it, I kept perfectly still. She gently kissed the delicate skin below my ear, moving tenderly down towards my collarbone. I didn’t react, I was trying to figure out if she was just asleep and snuggling into me or if she was deliberately kissing me. I couldn’t believe that she was actually kissing me, and if she was, what to make of it.
I shifted my head to the side, opening my throat up to her. She moved a little closer, leaning into me so that her mouth could travel further over my skin, so gentle, soft, barely there. I was confused and wasn’t sure what to do, or even what to feel.
I finally turned to face her and her mouth travelled up to meet mine. Tentative, soft, exploratory, questioning, we kissed, her lips so very soft, our breathing shallow, both of us skittish, my head reeling with the sensation, fear, wonder. Her fingertips travelled lightly under my t-shirt, across my ribs, around my waist, not quite reaching my breasts.
The next day, we acted like it never happened, but it was hanging between us every second as we swam together in the wild surf, ran on the beach, laughed together over ridiculous things. I was scared and eager for night to fall, to get back into bed, to kiss her again, to see what would happen next.
Much later when we finally talked about that night, I told her how impressed I was that she had initiated our first kiss, and she looked at me in surprise.
“You kissed me first!” she said.
My turn to be shocked.
She told me that I had apparently grabbed her at a party we had gone to a little while before that night, and I’d aggressively, drunkenly, pashed her there ‘in front of everybody’. She’d been shocked-impressed-delighted by it. I didn’t even remember it, which is beyond disappointing, not least because, go me!
Also, this is a reason not to drink, kids. Not because you might do terrible things you will regret. Oh no. It’s because you might do awesome things and not remember.