Last night, for no reason that I'm able to pinpoint, I was thinking about the first boy that I ever kissed that I didn't particularly want to kiss. This is not a terrible story, have no fear. At worst you'll leave it shaking your head and saying 'Oh Emma, honey'. I was fourteen or fifteen and his name was Seth and we were in a play together in Boulder. Weekdays I would walk a mile down the side of the mountain that I lived on and catch a bus, and then I'd walk another mile to the theater where we rehearsed. It was an old building, a round one that looked like the top half of a geodisic dome, and it had no air conditioning.
Seth had lived in Hawaii before he came to Boulder. I think his father may have been in the military? He wore camouflage clothes (can I repeat, I was fourteen or fifteen) and had red hair and that's all I remember about how he looked, but I was crazy about him the way a young teenage girl can be crazy about someone with no actual reason. He flirted with other girls in the play, but somehow, one day, he called me at home and asked if I wanted to go see a movie with him.
This part still embarrasses me residually. Like, I don't think it SHOULD have been embarrassing, but I was so ashamed at the time that it's literally still with me a little bit. He said the movie was at 9:30 and asked if I could get a ride, and I thought he meant in the morning because I WAS FOURTEEN AND WHO GOES TO A 9:30 PM MOVIE? I asked my dad about getting a ride and he was a little surprised at how early the movie was, so I looked it up and discovered that of course there was no 9:30 am show of whatever the heck we were supposed to see. So I called Seth back. I don't remember what I said but I lied. For sure. Whatever I said had the gist of 'I can't go out at night after all let's hang out during the day'. And then blushed for the next ten hours straight just thinking about how wrong I'd been.
So we met at Scott Carpenter park in Boulder instead and hung out and when we were in the trees by the river I realized he was going to kiss me and I didn't want him to. My stomach felt bad - not flippy bad, but dread bad. I didn't know what to do, so I let him kiss me.
He wasn't my first kiss, but he may have been my second. Chris, in eighth grade, was my first kiss. The order from there gets a little fuzzy.
After we kissed (probably chaste and quick, I certainly don't remember otherwise), I told him I actually had to leave and I walked a bunch of blocks to the mall and went to a department store and bought a four dollar tub of flavored lip balm because I didn't want to feel like I was kissing him anymore. Four dollars was a serious investment for me.
We never went out (and definitely never kissed) again.
Here's what I think about now. I wonder which part and how much of what happened had to do with whatever expectations I'd already fully internalized? Did I feel guilty about being attracted to someone? I was a goofy, poorly hair-cutted, badly dressed kid, and I hadn't had a lot of experience with someone liking me back. It's possible that I was feeling the beginnings of what actual desire would look like and it freaked me the hell out.
Of course it's also possible that I realized that I didn't actually like him for whatever reason. Any reason. And that I couldn't say no because I didn't know how girls did that. I'd certainly never seen it happen in school, or movies, or on tv or in books.
I didn't have Katniss kissing boys or not kissing them and being ok with both. (I also didn't have Bella being literally THE WORST. Who knows what would have happened if I'd embraced her as a role model.) I didn't have the internet, so I sure as hell didn't have thefbomb.com or even Rookie. I'm sure my mom would have given me strong advice, but I didn't ask.
I used that balm almost compulsively for the whole rest of that day, and then could never bring myself to use it again.