A List of Firsts

First kiss

Eddie. Kindergarten. I did it because it was funny. He had a bad Mohawk his mom had done at home. The other kids giggled and screamed when we kissed. It lasted a day.

First hug

I barely knew him. Leaving a friend’s house, winding a scarf around my neck. He stepped in close and I dodged left because I thought he was reaching behind me for something. He caught me with the other arm. I could still smell his cologne on me after.

First lay

We were nervous. We were neither very interested in the other. He asked me, as we got our clothes on afterward, whether I thought it was worth it. I said, “sure,” as flippantly as I could.

First burn

His nail scraped my knuckle as he withdrew his hand from a doorknob. I had been reaching for the light switch and flinched back when he grazed me. He caught my hand in both of his. “Sorry,” he said, “sorry.” It only bled after he left.

First cruelty

He insulted my tastes, insulted my friends, insulted my family without ever realizing it. I put him on a slow burn, finding thousands of little ways to kill him every day. The thousandth blow was a trip I had alluded to but hadn’t explicitly mentioned. He showed up at my house the day of. I called him from the car.

First obsession

I don’t know if he even exists, but I find his eyelashes in men I see on the street. Commuters in the morning bear his chin. There are those close enough to him that they could be his brothers, strangers all. I am sick with him for days at a time.

First embarrassment

This one seemed so much more than me. My grocery list of dysfunctions was no match for his utter normality. He had come from a place where there were no raised voices. I spilled soda on him during karaoke. While he fetched napkins, I snuck out the side door.

First fear

He didn’t even love me. But he couldn’t stand the idea of not having me. I endured slow, steady weeks of poison. I gained a pardon when he fell in with an ex. He kept my stereo as compensation.

First disappointment

He was gay. How could I not see he was gay? Worse, his boyfriend was spectacular. I was denied the luxury of hating either of them.

First death

He told me “I feel like I don’t even know you,” across the table at Denny’s. I had nothing to say to that. I sat staring at the snow outside long after he left.

First fall

Have you ever suspended gravity for someone for a brief period of time? It’s never for a good reason, either. They asked you to lift your foot, and you upend the world.

First conflict

I’m sorry. I really, really, really don’t like the things you like. I can’t keep quiet on them anymore because you keep shoving them in my face. I’m sorry. I don’t even know what I like about you anymore. I can’t stand Madonna, hate spice, and utterly loathe Wes Anderson. Sorry. Not sorry.

First night

We sat on a bridge, I think. Snow was drifting down. After a while he said, “We should go.” Neither of us got up. Eventually my hand found his pocket. He was warm.


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