My first kiss was at the back of someone else’s room: dimmed lights, darkened walls, frayed sheets. The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus blasting music in the background like some kind of an affirmation for my action. The rest of the world slowly shifting into a silent sea.
I was 15 years old — half a dreamer, half a fool. My fingers tingled with a childish anticipation for what was ahead of me. My tongue bled with beer and blasphemy. My stomach turned and twisted over something I should’ve said long before the words ever began to take meaning, long before I ever began to say no.
In my head I was thinking what harm could it cause me, what damage, what loss (other than the one that was robbed from me in childhood)? A casual rendezvous, a mild invitation, a tender voice saying “Come here, come closer” until there was no more space between our lips and our bodies; until there was no more time to run.
So there was my first kiss.
I remember telling myself “This is not how they do it in books, in films. This is not how it is supposed to be.” But even before I was able to say so, the years have already seeped into the cracks of my life like a gentle river, turning me [c]older year after year after year, washing away the innocence of my long lost youth.
The years passed by as I wrestled my way into the hearts of men and waged a revolution to win whatever victory there was. These men, the boys inside of them. I memorized their manners, their maneuvers, as easily as I forgot the reason why I did. I listened intently to their words and their stories, not wanting to believe any of them but doing so anyway because at the back of your silly little head, you were still holding on to that small sliver of a chance for love and for all of its false promises.
But I did as I was told. My girl, my good girl. Come here, come closer. I spread my arms wide open for whatever might come to find me there. I set my hands to work, my mouth to motion. I closed my eyes and breathed in silence as they moved their body through the steady cadence that both exhilarated and extinguished me. And when it was over, I held them between my arms only to feel not a fraction of tenderness or warmth, but only apathy or something close to that effect.
These men, the boys inside of them — laughing, hiding, wanting only one thing in the world and then leaving at the slightest of climax. They snatch me in a second, bury me beneath blankets, crucify me to my sins. Their hands are gentle, warm. Their fingers forgiving as they comb through the strands of my jet black hair, my cherry hair, my auburn hair — my hair changing colors through the years as they would change their minds and I would change my sheets. Their bodies are fragile, made of guilt and glass and bones. They cradled my head with their tender hands while the rest of them hammered into me like hailstones.
And when was the last time you did this and felt for the first time the shame, the disgust? Did you wait for them to part their lips to let out a sorry or a sigh? Did you ask for them to stay the night? And when they left as quickly as they came, did you crawl back to bed as if nothing mattered or did you throw yourself into the shower and leave the water running on and on and on like the tears that would not run dry, as you crumble on the bathroom floor fumbling for what was damaged, what was lost?
I lined up my ex-lovers in a row like little toy soldiers and imagined each of them living happy lives. In the midst of these casualties, it dawned on me the truly most important lesson of this story and that is: I don’t own them and they don’t own me. We are not prisoners of each other any more than we are prisoners of this cold torture machine we call love. And what are we to each other really other than mere stations in the grand bullet train of our lives, providing each other an ounce of comfort and rest, allowing us time to breathe momentarily in each other’s spaces, before finally wishing each other a safe happy trip.
In their eyes, I know I will always only be that girl — the good girl, the wrong girl, the girl who was asking for it and for none at all; the girl who had nothing, who wanted everything.
I stared at my pallid face in the mirror and saw once smooth skin gone, replaced by a face of a wild bird — a reminder of who I once was, a call to return to who I have always been. I am not someone who wants or needs but only this winged spirit, forever wild and wandering in the woodlands of other people’s love.
I tell myself it is time to surrender the war and finally lay this revolution to rest.
You fought well. You loved well. It is okay.