Februarium II: When

A day late again on my Februarium post. This one deals with when I’ve loved.

It was 1986 and my family had moved from the aggressively cold midwestern winters of Michigan to the drawl-filled hills of Chattanooga, Tennessee. To make us all feel more comfortable in our new environs, my mother suggested my younger brother Thad and I perform in a community theatre (in the round) much as we had in Michigan. We both agreed and I took a part as “The Army” in L. Frank Baum’s Ozma of Oz. Thad played a street urchin in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and I’m going to politely resist the temptation to say anything more about that.

One of the great things about acting, even when you’re nine or ten years old, is that you get to be someone else and explore different aspects of your own personality. I was always a confident kid and no more so than when I was onstage. As “The Army” I got to be brave and, more importantly, very funny. I caught the eye of a girl in the production who happened to be performing in the play with her twin sister. I don’t know how to explain this, but she was much prettier than her sister; funnier, brighter and infinitely more interesting. We hit it off immediately.

We would hang out backstage during rehersals and talk about school, the play or our siblings. I don’t think I’d ever had a friend like that before in my life. A person so interesting and interested in me. A person who I liked to be around and I found, in my tweenage way, attractive. This was my crush. She would become my first real girlfriend.

It was innocent, pure and completely exhilirating. We’d hold hands a lot or eat out with the cast and our family after the show. One time her mother drove me home after rehersal and we shared laffy taffy in the back seat of her parents’ minivan and laughed about god-knows-what. It was magical puppy love.

I shared my first kiss with her. During a 10-minute break from rehersal one afternoon, after her twin sister had left us to use the restroom. She watched her sister leave then turned to face me, smiling sweetly. She closed her eyes and kissed me full on the lips. The whole thing lasted 5 seconds at which point we stopped, smiled briefly at one another, then kissed again.

I was giddy. She was beaming. We held hands and went back to the theatre.

8 weeks later we moved to Georgia. 4 weeks prior to that the play had ended its run. I had turned 10 but she wasn’t at the party. We went to different schools anyhow, so it was a very long distance relationship.

I remember her face and her kiss like it was yesterday. I don’t even remember her name, but she was my first love. No matter how brief or superficial, she was the first.

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