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Confession: some days I hate being a writer. Today is one of those days.

I’m looking at today’s assignment for day 3 of the 30-day writing challenge. It says “Your first love and your first kiss; if separate, discuss both.”

Are you freaking kidding me? Wouldn’t it be easier to just play in traffic or on some train tracks while a train goes by for the day?

But sometimes it’s these difficult life experiences – the things we don’t want to write about, that can spin off our greatest works of writing. Sometimes, this is exactly the kind of thing we need.

And it’s not like I haven’t written about them before. My first kiss I practically wrote an entire book of (bad) poetry about (not the actual kiss — he definitely wasn’t that good. But the person himself.). I’ve been saying I’ll write a novel on my first love for year. Maybe this will help to steer me in the right direction.

So here it goes…

My first kiss actually didn’t take place until I was 21. I guess I never really had an opportunity before then. I had one boyfriend in high school. I was 14 and he was 16. We were so young and pretty much afraid of each other back then. He’s kissed girls before, but when he found out he’d be my first kiss – I think it kind of scared him. He wanted to “do it right.” He was waiting for his moment, but I guess it never really came. We didn’t hang out much like at all. We were really bad at being a couple. We were just meant to be friends, so we broke up 3 months into our “relationship” and then after a few awkward weeks, ended up becoming stronger friends. But we never did have that first kiss moment. That wouldn’t take place for another 7 years for me.

By the time I was 21 I was kind of embarrassed by the fact that I still haven’t had my first kiss yet. Honestly, I wanted to kiss anyone just to “get it over with” and say I did it. I actually did have some male friends offer to do it for me and I seriously considered taking them up on the offer. But I knew I’d catch feelings…without ever having that kind of contact I was already starting to and they promised me it would mean nothing to me. I couldn’t do it.

So I waited for my time to come, and in October of 2011, it did.

Let me give you a little back story on what my 2011 was like: it was the worst year of my life.

In September, my maternal grandfather died of lung cancer. 4 weeks later, my paternal grandmother died unexpectedly of complications from a UTI. My maternal grandmother was also in the process of dying of a brain tumor.

I was EXTREMELY close to my grandparents and everyone was dead or dying one after the other. I couldn’t take it. I felt like I lose everything, everyone that was important to me. I was so lonely.

And I was so sick of being single and being a 21 year old who never kissed a boy.

So I did what most people my age did in 2011 when they wanted a boyfriend and wanted one fast: I created an account on OKCupid.com and went “shopping” for a boyfriend.

Because I was so lonely, so depressed, so miserable and fed up with my life, and so DESPERATE, I pretty much took the first thing I found.

It was a blonde Catholic boy named Alec. Alec lived in Sewell. I was living in Woodbury at the time. He went to school at GCC (now known as Rowan College at Gloucester County), the school I graduated from just over a year ago. According to OKCupid, we were more than a 90% match (OKCupid totally lies, but at this point I didn’t really care) and we seemed to get along well enough when we talked. I didn’t drive or have a license or anything and I didn’t want my parents to know I was talking to or seeing a boy or anything (It has been 7 years since I “dated” anyone if you want to call it that, and with everyone around me dying, my parents had enough to worry about without me adding to it). Alec and I both had a break in between classes at the same time and Rowan and GCC weren’t very far, so we made plans to meet at Rowan during our break for the first time on October 25, 2011.

We didn’t have much time to talk. I was volunteering my time to tell people about what it’s like to be hearing impaired as part of Rowan’s disability awareness week event that day. I had been so excited to be a part of it, and I was kind of doing a half-assed job at it since Alec showed up. Kind of through it all down the the drain for him that day. That wouldn’t be the only thing I’d give up for him…

We got alone well enough. I don’t even remember what we talked about that day. He said he had aspergers. I didn’t know what aspergers was but I kind of dismissed it as not being anything to worry about or anything at all so I ignored it.

The next day, Alec became my boyfriend. It doesn’t even make sense to write that now I mean I didn’t even know him, but that’s exactly how our relationship worked — quick, fast, intense, and too much all at once. Couldn’t even process what was happening until after it all happened.

Alec was experienced. He’s had several girlfriends in the past. As I think I’ve already established, I was pretty stupid and didn’t see this as being any kind of red flag in our relationship or anything. I never questioned it, never wondered. But anyway, with that being said, he’s definitely kissed a girl before. A few, actually.

I think that Alec was kind of surprised to find out I never kissed anyone before, but he was excited to be my first. So we planned to do it the next time we saw each other, which would be the following day, October 27th.

Alec came to visit me in between classes at Rowan again. The cat was out of the bag and everyone including my parents knew we were dating, so I think I was a little bit more relaxed.

Oh, who was I kidding. I was totally freaking out.

I knew he was going to kiss me and I was so nervous. I spent over half an hour in my bathroom brushing my teeth before school that day. I  chewed strong, minty chewed gum all day. But I was worried that it wasn’t enough. So I went to the little school store and brought several packs of different types of mint gum, listerine strips, and some other breath mints. My mouth was so minty and clean that it burned. The cashier probably thought I lost my mind that day or had some kind of weird gum/mouth disease or something.

Alec and I didn’t really do anything that day. We just walked around campus and talked a bit. I think I showed him my favorite little bridge behind the student center at Rowan. There’s nothing really special about it, but I always liked it.

If my memory is correct, I had class at around 4:45, so at around 4:30ish or so Alec and I left the student center and began to walk to the education building where my class was. I knew the kiss was coming — it would be a typical kiss goodbye. As we walked closer and closer to the building, my heart started to race faster and faster and I became more and more nervous. The next thing I knew we were standing in front of a large bulletin board in the hallway on the second floor of the Education building where all of my classmates were standing outside of my classroom waiting for class to begin.

Alec and I stood at each other. He looked at me as if to say “are you ready?” and I nodded.

I leaned in closer and he softly brushed his lips against mine. A sweet, innocent kiss. No tongue or nothing…at least not yet.

It all happened so fast. It must have only lasted a few seconds. But my nerves were still there. Was I a good kisser? Was I a bad kisser? Was he good?Bad? Do I like this?I didn’t even know. Unlike Alec, I had absolutely nothing to compare it to, so how would I even know?

I pulled away from Alec and stared at him, frozen in my tracks.He looked at me and smiled and then said, “Want another?”. I said yes, and then I knew, I must not have been so bad afterall.

I have absolutely no idea what I learned in class that day. (Sorry, Professor Wolff!). All I remember is I felt hot and couldn’t focus or concentrate at all throughout class. My lips were tingling and I thought the classroom might be on fire it was so hot.

After class I checked my phone and had a couple of messages from Alec. He told me it was the best kiss of his life and he couldn’t wait to do it again. He said next time we’d use tongue. I was excited, but nervous, too. I was so afraid I’d be bad at it.Kissing someone on the lips is easy…tongue…that was an area I haven’t even attempted to conquer and where all of my fear and anxieties laid. Plus, Alec had braces…would that make any difference? Would our teeth clang together? Would I use too much tongue? Not enough? How would I even begin to know what to do?

Looking at it now…I don’t even remember it. It happened. We enjoyed it. We did it over and over and over and over again. All day, everyday. It was pretty much all we ever did.

And that was the beginning of the end for us.

We lasted 5 months. It was 5 months too long.

The main problem with our relationship was that it was just too much too soon. I had no idea what was happening. And when I did, I didn’t like it.

He took advantage of me. He manipulated me. He abused me.

And I allowed it.

I have many scars from this relationship. For years after the fact, I hated myself. I have many regrets. I made many mistakes. You learn from your mistakes. I definitely learned. I learned many hard lessons. One of the hardest lessons I learned is this: some mistakes are permanent. If you ever have to question if you should be doing something, you probably shouldn’t do it. Don’t do something you won’t be able to live with yourself for doing.

I hated myself for the mistakes I made for many years. I thought I was defined by my mistakes and I thought that my mistakes defined me as being worthless and undeserving of love or forgiveness. It took me many years to forgive myself and to realize that I am worthy of love and forgiveness and life goes on. I made mistakes that I cannot undo, but these mistakes will not dictate my life.

Alec was my first kiss. He was my first real boyfriend. He was the first for a lot of things.

But there was one thing he was not and never will be.

He was not my first love. Our relationship was based on many things. Love was not one of them.

The only thing that Alec loved about me was using me, controlling me, screaming at me, forcing me to do things I didn’t want to do.

And…I didn’t love him either. I didn’t know how I felt about him. But after 5 months, I saw he didn’t love me, I realized I didn’t love him, and I realized I made a terrible mistake.

But I left. I left. Because I deserved better. Because I am worth so much more than that. Because I was done tolerating him and the abuse.

And I went on to love others. I may have lost, but at least I had that love, even if not forever.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this post when I address my first love. (I know I’m supposed to combine it in 1 post but this post is already over 2,000 words…do you really want to keep reading the same long post? Yeah, didn’t think so).