Do you know that song by Roberta Flack, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”? I have always thought it a beautiful song and it has always reminded me of my first kiss.
I met him on the first day of my sophomore year in high school. He was a junior. I was fifteen, going on sixteen and he was a year older. Because our geometry teacher seated us in alphabetical order, I sat behind him in the last seat of the first row. We chatted very briefly during the first class period but I had seen him looking at me in a way that made me blush. I kind of liked him, too. Later that day, I discovered he was also in my journalism class. Well, not exactly. I was in second year journalism and he was in first year. That meant that I was on the school newspaper staff and basically did the newspaper work during that class. Larry had to go through all the lessons on writing effective leads and headlines and including the “five w’s” in his stories.
During geometry class, he and I started to talk and he tried telling me some very corny jokes to get me to laugh. He was a funny guy. One day, about two weeks into the school year, we were following in our books as Mr. Stedman was showing us how to solve a problem. From the desk in front of me came an arm and grabbed my pencil out of my hand. I think he was actually trying to grab my hand. I tried to get my pencil back from him and in the process, it broke. He apologized and under his breath, asked the person across from him for a piece of tape and began to tape my pencil together. Just then Mr. Stedman called on him to answer a question, which he had not been paying attention to. He couldn’t answer and he said, “Sorry Mr. Stedman, I am very busy here. I’m performing surgery.”
Mr. Stedman asked, “Performing surgery? On what?”
“On this pencil.”
Everyone cracked up. Mr. Stedman, ever the cool teacher replied, “Okay then doctor, continue with your surgery. That is much more important than geometry, but hurry it up!”
That was the beginning of us. After that day, we sat together on the ledge outside the library every break period and every lunch. I let him hold my hand. We were an item. But we didn’t see each other outside of school. And we had not ever kissed.
In the early spring, we were both invited to a birthday party that was being held at the community pool where most of my friends lived. There was a golf course adjacent to the pool. I didn’t live in that neighborhood. Mine was a much less expensive neighborhood. No pool. No park. No golf course.
The night of the party, my sister and mother dropped me off and said they’d be back to pick me up at nine o’clock. I didn’t argue because I was never allowed to go anywhere so I was not going to complain about having to leave so early. He got to the party around 7:30. We talked for awhile and then he asked if I wanted to go for a walk so we took off into the golf course. Once we got out of eye sight of everyone, his hand found mine and we walked into the darkened golf course hand in hand. We looked at the stars through a clearing in the trees and then he said we should sit down so we could see the stars better. So we sat on the grass. We were talking about the stars and the clear sky and looking up at the brilliant stars when his face came near mine and his lips found mine. I was a bit surprised but it was not an unwelcomed kiss. That’s where the song lyrics come in…
The first time ever I kissed your mouth
I felt the earth move through my hand
Like the trembling heart of a captive bird
That was there at my command
That’s what it was like. The dark night sky above, filled with endless stars, the earth turning and moving and our hearts trembling…with fear, with joy, with love and innocence.
After that, we continued as an item, holding hands in front of everyone and walking to class together. But that was our only kiss until much later when we once again kissed on the bleachers in the gym, watching a basketball game. That was also the same night that caused our break up. You see, one of his old friends from Catholic middle school was in the bleachers and she had a crush on him. His mother and her mother were friends. The girl saw us kissing. Then the next thing I knew, he told me that his mother thought we were getting too serious so he was not supposed to see me anymore. We stopped sitting together and we stopped spending any time together. That spring he took the other girl, the one from his Catholic middle school, to the prom. I stayed home.
No fight. Just the wrong timing. Fond memories. And a song that makes me smile every time I hear it.