He cupped my face in his hands as I shifted my weight forward on the kitchen worksurface to meet his mouth. He was 19, glittery silver deelybopper wearing art college dropout and I was 14. We were at our Church’s Youth Group’s Christmas Party and his ex girlfriend had recently miscarried their child. I suppose he finally felt free of the responsibility and duty that had been facing him; they were preparing to marry in-spite of not being compatible, as some kind of penance for the sins that had been committed on the floor of a grubby flat somewhere in Cheltenham, and the Church authorities, in fact all the adults around them, were not only going to let this train wreck happen they were actively encouraging it as the right thing to do.
She was a glorious blonde, short haired rebel at the same school as me, and she definitely looked more relieved than upset that evening but in my callous 14 year old way I wasn’t really very focused on her and what had happened to her. That bothers me now of course but I forgive 14 year old me because I knew no better at the time and I was pretty obsessed anyway. Dave Jones, the object of a crush for so many months, and unavailable until now, was my focus and I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity, not me, not now, not for her and certainly not for any sense of the right thing to do because even I could see that the adults were clearly mad and driven by something other than a desire for all involved to have a happy and fulfilling life.
It was a gorgeous kiss, tentative at first, and then as the mutual awareness of our mutual enjoyment spread through to our lips, softened them and allowed us to open out from a need to be safe to a place of exploration where expression and desire leapfrogged over each other and urged our mouths to open wide and our tongues to explore deeper and more fully, to taste all that could be tasted in that moment, to taste life and love and hope and lust together. We began with eyes shut but eventually our eyes opened with amazement at how fucking good this kiss was and we gazed into each other’s souls. After an eternity, and still too soon, it finished and we gently rested with foreheads together as we shook with pleasure and release of tension.
God knows, if He was watching, how long we kissed but I don’t . Locked in a Church Hall kitchen and surrounded by tea in a container labelled coffee to catch the uninitiated out and sugar pots with grubby little drops of coffee spoiling the purity of the sweetness with unconscious habits from dirty teaspoons we weren’t timing it. We were just luxuriating in the moment, the perfection of its inappropriate timing and still one of my best kisses ever. I lived on the potential of that kiss for 2 years, waiting for its twin, hoping that once again, he would look at me and say “Do you have any idea how much I have wanted to do that?”.
It wasn’t to be though. For 2 years we were in a Church band, spent pretty much any available moment reading the Bible and evangelising, were considered boyfriend and girlfriend but chaste which was encouraged by the adults around us, we were the Church poster couple. He went on to become a preacher, I went on to become an apostate, but in those 2 years spent in prayer and reading and contemplation and music and singing I was probably a most complete version of myself. Not weighed down by the expectations or trials that would have come had we been together but still connected.
I could rage at the waste, at the pleasure denied but that would ignore the pleasure I got from feeling and sublimating my attraction and desire for him. It felt special, I felt chosen and gifted with it and that I would chose in whatever limited realm of choice there was for me in those circumstances tells me something about me. It tells me that I can wait, that I can endure, and that I can transform that waiting into something beautiful and meaningful and precious. It is a lesson I bring into my 50s from my teenage self with love.