Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I still have the photo

It was June of 1992. My classmates and I got up at the crack of dawn, sodas and snacks packed, pockets full of bills bestowed by lenient parents, smelling of sunscreen and adolescence. We congregated in the parking lot and piled onto Bus 7, which Brett's dad drove, and which was the newest, nicest bus the district had. The bus was full of nervous, excited, 13-year-old energy, and the girls were braiding each other's hair while the boys impersonated Beavis and/or Butthead and everyone sang the lyrics to "Baby Got Back."

A couple of hours later we'd made the trip down to the South Bay and everyone scrambled off the bus, showing prepurchased wrist bands at the entrance, and all of a sudden, poof! everyone was gone. I found myself standing alone at Great America, packed with young teens all itching to ride the rides, eat the greasy, crappy food, play the pubertic and mean-girl games with each other. I didn't have many friends at the time; my best friend was a grade ahead and had already moved on to high school. The few people I could call friend in my own grade had gone off without me. My stomach dropped out of my feet, and I almost started crying, but then I realized that that would be just about the worst thing someone could do in that situation, so instead I started walking.

I walked around for about an hour, just walking, not stopping to smell the cotton candy and curly fries or stand in line for any of the rides. It was still morning and not hot enough to take off my shirt to my bathing suit underneath, but I had it tied up in a knot on the side just the same. (Hey, 1992. I was entitled to shirt-tying.) Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a guy who was also just walking, walking, not stopping. Eventually he looked at me. Then we started walking together, and started that oh-so-awkward conversation of name, school, why are you walking? Oh, I said, I've lost my friends. Me too, he said. We walked some more, and talked. He was really cute - light brown hair, blue eyes, dimples, much taller than I was. A glimmer of something sparked in my chest, and the sob that had wanted to come out since I'd entered the park dissipated.

Eventually, one or the other of us suggested we try a ride, so we did. Then we got some food. Then, we found his friends, who joined us for more rides, giving us askance glances and each other knowing looks. He made plans to meet back up with his friends in a particular place, later in the afternoon, and the two of us went off on our own to ride more rides, and I even took off my shirt when we rode the water ride because it got sopping. I bought a hat that said Great America because I'd lost my sunglasses and my eyes were hurting from the June glare. Noticing my squint, he suggested we go see the IMAX movie, and I agreed, since I'd never seen IMAX before. We filed into an enormous dark room with an incredibly large screen, and watched something about volcanos, I think, but I can't remember because I spent the whole time aware with every pore on my arm and hand of how close his hand was to mine. Soon, he began to hold my hand, and I stifled a gasp. This guy! was holding my hand! in a dark movie theater! which had never happened before; no hand holding ever. My heart went faster and I tired to relax and watch the movie.

When it was done, we rode a gondola ride, holding hands in oour own private car and enjoying the view of the park. At the other end, we were still gripping each other's hands despite the heat, and rode the water ride again. At one point, some girls from my class saw us walking along and holding hands, and they called out to me, and I waved but didn't say anything. A very small yet self-satisfied part of me felt smug and superior; I'd found a guy to hang out with at the park and they hadn't. And he was SO cute. We found one of those photo booths, the kind that give you a four-picture strip. When it developed, we tore it in half, and I kept the bottom two. He wrote his name and address and phone number on a napkin, and I did the same, looking into his eyes, watching his dimples flash. It was the end of the day and we'd both have to be leaving soon, him to meet up with his friends and me to get back on the bus and head home.

I knew it was coming. We walked over to the entrance of the park, and he enfolded me in a bear hug. Then he held me at length, leaned down, and kissed me (!)
That's what I felt, with that first kiss I'd ever recieved. ! It was warm and soft and yes, with tongue, and I wasn't sure what to think of it. He promised to call me soon, despite the 3 hour drive between his hometown and mine and the fact that we were both 13. Our hands unclasped and I walked toward the entrance, my mouth still tingling with the day of sun and the kiss, and several of my classmates hurried over to get the details, since several of them had seen us walking around and holding hands throughout the day. But it was my secret, my triumph, and I wanted to keep the details to myself for a while, to mull over this whole experience that was holding hands with a boy, connecting with a person on a deeper level than just hi, how ya doin. I think there was a smile on my face the whole drive home.

(courtesy Amanda's meme)


Anonymous said...

Wow, great story! I have to say its stories like that, that keep the dream of the perfect first kiss alive and well. But you also didn't say if you guys ever saw each other again. What happened? :)

MLE said...

Ah, the followup.

There were a couple of letters written over the years, and he came to one of my swim meets in his hometown at some point in high school. When we met at 13, he was lapsed LDS but went back to the church a year or two later, so we both knew a friendship was the only possibility. We lost touch after high school. Just after I posted this, I googled him and found that he's still singing (I found the website for a big production he'd been in) and married with five kids!

Anonymous said...

Great memory. Glad your first kiss was much more enjoyable than mine. :)

Anonymous said...

Awesome story. I have a pretty similar one--not a first kiss, though, and I never saw the kid again. I was 12 and we met at an amusement park and it still remains the only time I've ever swapped numbers or been "picked up" by a stranger. There must be something in the cotton candy...