You know those moments when you just have to think of something good, like when your kid is having a meltdown? Or during wisdom tooth extraction? Whenever I need to forget about where I am, or just want to feel really good, I evoke the memory of the best kissing experience I ever had. I'd become great at summoning up the inside of Eric's red Volkswagen at sixteen, or in Washington Park with Theo, just around graduation, the rebound relationship that never quite became anything, but was thrilling just the same.
Who would have guessed that so many decades later I would get my best first kiss ever?
It came from a man I completely did not expect to knock my socks off, during a time I did not think it possible for any socks to be knocked, and what happened was this. I had emerged from a not so great 20 year relationship and was just starting to get my feathers fluffed. I had just put a profile on Match.com, my first internet dating experience ever, gotten a few stupid hits, when along came what seemed like a sincere note from a guy who sounded just like me in many ways. We exchanged messages online for a few days, then decided to meet that Friday for a meal.
I couldn't decide how much of a success it was yet, as I'd been so out of practice. On one hand, he was super preppy, and two, he talked REALLY fast. Plus, he was obsessed with football (I had never been to a game in my life) and was, of all things, a former frat boy (nauseating, right?). However.....nearly three hours of lunch had flown by and so often during our date did I feel like I was witnessing the male version of me, with his enthusiasm and arms flinging around all over the place when he talked.
I really appreciated that at the end of our time together, he hadn't tried to kiss, shake hands, or touch me. I wasn't ready for any of that. And I loved that the next day he texted me photographs and the narrative of a trip to Pennsylvania with his boys, while thanking me for a wonderful time.
We met again that Sunday afternoon in a neighborhood pub, and it was soothing to see him in sweats and shorts instead of a button up shirt and oxfords (he had just come from coaching his son's game). We sat drinking soda and chewing on their homemade potato chips, wiling away another couple of hours, until out of the blue, he announced," I think we are going to kiss today."
"What?!" I exclaimed. It was such a bold statement to make on a second date, and I had not a thought in my brain of kissing a stranger. "Why would you say that?" I was terrified.
"Well," he replied, wiping his mouth with the napkin," when I got up this morning, I just knew that we were going to kiss."
This man's audacity was stunning, but more so because there was not an ounce of presumption.
"I don't think I'm ready for anything like that," I finally managed to get out. "I mean, how about we wait another week?"
"Oh no; that's not a good idea," he said, staring at me, as his face turned serious.
"Because then it would be way too much pressure." His blue eyes had begun to twinkle.
"What are you talking about?"
"Because then I would have to order some fireworks," he ticked off on his fingers, "and hire a mariachi band..."
His joking made my nervousness dissipate, and we spent another half hour there. But when it was time to leave, I could feel myself again receding when he reached for my hand. After all of the therapy I'd had for the marital crap, one of the main things I needed to work on was acknowledging my own feelings and what I myself wanted, especially in tricky situations. For far too long, I'd let someone else decide.
But the other part, the daring adolescent still inside thought, what's the big deal?
We walked the block back, my heart racing, arrived at my minivan, and faced each other. I had to look way up at him in his 6 foot 3 inch glory, take in the foreign-ness of all that gray hair, a non-familiar face. His eyes were warm and gave me a questioning look, as he paused first before easing me into a gentle hug for a couple of beats, and breathed in the scent of my hair, telling me I smelled good. "That's because I just took a shower," I told him.
"No, you didn't. You were in the bar with me!" His humor disarmed me, and in the midst of my giggle, he reached down under my chin, looked deeply into my eyes, and stroked my cheek.
"OK?" The invitation. It was a yes. He leaned down, tilted my face up to his, and gently kissed me on the mouth.
Explosion. Fireworks. Melting. I knocked my arm against the door of the car and grabbed the car handle to hold myself up. I don't know what happened, but this kiss rocked my world. It was almost humiliating to feel so weak in the knees. It had never happened before, and my first and only thought was, I am sixteen again.
(This is part 1 in a series of 2; check out "Best First Kiss" from the guy's point of view in part 2!)
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