We sat on the front porch of our house. It was really like a big step with two, Roman-style columns on either side that held up a tiny roof over our heads. I was next to one post and a guy from down the street named, Tom, was next to the other post and between us were two girls. Next to Tom was Lynn, my next door neighbour and next to me was her cousin, Linda, who was visiting for the summer.
The truth was I had a huge crush on Lynn and at the time she was crazy for Tom and if Rick Springfield had written “Jesse’s Girl” yet I would’ve been singing it all summer while I prayed for them to break up. But there we sat in the dark on a cool mid-western early summer night. The stars were out and we were talking about everything and nothing and anything that came to mind. We were packed in between the two pillars, an excuse for being very close and I was intently aware of the heat I felt where my thigh touched Linda’s as we sat on the cool concrete.
My arm was technically around Linda and Tom’s was around Lynn. We were leaning back with our arms behind us for support and my left hand rested behind Linda and his behind Lynn. I wished our dates were reversed but I was also feeling pretty good about being right where I was. “Be with the one you love, love the one you be with…” So we talked and the stars shined and the slight breeze moved the leaves on the Sweetgum Tree and the giant full moon made its way across the sky.
Timing was everything and I knew that pretty soon the porch light would come on signaling the end of the evening and the end of my chance for a kiss from a girl I was pretty sure was willing to give me one. I was hoping Tom would go first and kiss Lynn and then we could just follow along but he was taking forever and my internal clock was telling me I was running out of time. Finally I just started staring at Linda who stared back at me, looking at me, waiting for me to say or do something. Everything stopped. I was aware of everything and nothing. I felt the heat as her tanned, smooth leg rested against my scrawny, furry one. I could hear her breath, see the star light in her eyes and felt myself slowly moving my face down and forward towards her lips. I turned my head to adjust for landing just as she did and for an awkward split second I thought the moment was gone. But she self-corrected her course and our lips were suddenly and wonderfully together.
And in that moment, and not before that moment when it would have been helpful, but in that moment, my lips on her lips, I realized I had no idea what to do next.
For a minute we sat like that. It felt like an hour. Lips touching but not moving, eyes closed, waiting for something to happen and wondering, “Is this all there is?” A second later we were pelted with Sweetgum balls by some of our friends in the neighborhood who had been out walking and saw the four of us sitting there. They snuck up on us and ended our romantic interlude with a barrage of spiny fruit.
Secretly I was relieved even though I got mad and blustery. I decided I better study up on my kissing for next time. Sadly, I ended up having a lot of study time on my hands and Linda never sat that close again.
Lynn, on the other hand, is another story.