Melt With You
I was sad to see him go. He had treated me so nicely; even coming to my house the day after we were arrested to apologize to my parents. Such a nice boy! I figured he’d be back on holidays and summers, but I didn’t see him before my family moved out of state when I was fifteen.
My sophomore year in college, I started wondering about him. He was living in California the last I’d heard. Directory assistance. Telephone magic. We reconnected. Spoke for hours, a couple times a month.
That summer, he was driving back home from CA. My place was on the way. He came for a day and a half. It was so much fun, seeing him again. He was so sweet, like the older distant cousin you always thought was cute, but you were prevented from doing anything because he was your cousin. We were so comfortable.
I lived in an old Victorian house two blocks off campus. It was a great place, except that my roommates and I were remodeling it ourselves, and there was no air conditioning. Colton helped us move my friend Karie’s things in on Saturday, then fired up the grill.
There were six of us. We ate, drank and sat outside until the mosquitoes got the better of us. We moved inside to the living room floor. Someone suggested we play Spin the Bottle.
How dumb is that?? I had never played; why should I waste time with a stupid game like that? Nevermind. We played. Kissing only. Tongue mandadory. Ten Seconds' Rule. We were three boys and three girls: Cole, Mike, Kurt, Karie, Hollie and me.
The first few spins were boy-girl. Then Karie’s spin pointed to Hollie. My spin pointed to beautiful, tortured Mike. Yum. Mike’s spin landed on Cole. They each sat up onto their knees in the center of the circle, put hands on backs of necks and kissed. It was the hottest thing I had ever seen.
I withdrew my earlier “this is a stupid game” comment. Hollie got me on her next turn.
I had kissed two girls in my life: Debbie Benson in fourth grade, practicing with pillows in her room during a sleepover. We figured we should at least know if what we were doing would feel right when we finally did get to kiss a boy. The second was Annabelle Moreano, in my bedroom, seventh grade. She loved my freckles, I coveted her olive skin and dark hair. We were laughing about something, being silly. Sitting on the edge of the bed, out of breath, grinning at each other. She touched my leg. We kissed. Open mouths, no tongue.
Hollie and I were sitting next to each other in the circle. We turned face to face. Leaned forward and kissed for a full ten seconds. She tasted like lavender. I didn't really want to stop.
Cole and I never kissed during the game. Finally at 4 AM we all went to sleep. Cole slept in my room with me. It was so hot and sticky, even with the windows open and the fans on. I don’t think I ever fell asleep.
Pre-dawn, and I was propped on my elbow, watching him sleep. I remember thinking that I loved this person so much; that we’d known each other for so long, and he would love me no matter what. His eyes opened.
I kissed him. We made sweet, awkward, tentative love in my “room with the red walls.” He left after breakfast. Kissed my forehead. That was 1992. The last time I saw him.
Sunday, April 30, 2004
I was driving to work. Crossing the river, a song came on the radio. My head was flooded with images—feelings—myself at thirteen; then at twenty. Colton.
I got to work early, commandeered a computer and Googled him. Internet magic. I emailed him. He emailed back. We filled the space—twelve years since we’d seen each other—over the course of Memorial Day weekend. His short marriage and subsequent divorce; my marriage and move overseas, my kids and impending divorce. We talked about us- about what happened on that last morning. This is why I love him:
OUR incident was sweet - and completely uncontrived - and about as innocent as it's EVER been for me. I remember thinking that I loved that you were my friend, and I could just more or less show up, out of the blue, and be so welcome in your life, as if not time at all had passed, which is in some ways how it feels to be writing you, and speaking with you on the telephone. I've often said that one of the grandest measures of friendship is how long one can take it for granted, and still be welcomed back without recrimination. It's also what I love about gin drinkers, and why I'm learning to drink it. A gin drinker will leave the house for milk and bread, and come back with no explanation FIVE YEARS later, but of course, with the milk and bread.
He lives in Seattle with his girlfriend now. He enjoys a slightly vicarious sexual existence through me. We still talk about everything.
Today I was running errands. I called him.
Hey Maddie! What’s happenin’, gorgeous?
Hi, darlin’! I was just thinking about you.
Whatever were you thinking?? And how could I have been involved?
I was just driving past my old house, and I thought of you.
The house with the room with the red walls?
That’s the one!
The house where I kissed a boy?
The same house.
That was a good night. The morning wasn’t so bad, either.
You're the sweetest. I gotta go; have a fantastic day! Love you!
I love you, too, doll. Be good.