by Crystal Kupper,
As my 16th summer dawned, I had a few goals: earn some money at my assortment of part-time jobs. Pass driver’s ed. And get my first kiss.
Yes, at the ripe old age of 15, I still hadn’t been kissed. Thankfully (because who wants to be the last one?), three of my best friends also held that title. We made a somewhat odd wager over who would be the first one to leave the club. Typical teenage girls, no one bet on themselves, because each of us just knew we were the ugliest, most un-cool ones in the group.
Just a few weeks later, my childhood crush kissed me (right after I got out of driver’s ed for the day, in fact. Now that’s efficiency!). And I journaled the hecked out of the moment.
“The room suddenly seemed to get so quiet…I looked up at him, my own heart beating wildly…I thought I was going to melt…I had always thought I would think all this stuff before and during my first kiss, but I didn’t [Adult Crystal inserts: yes, deep thoughts like where do I put my nose? What if we crash teeth?]…I was kind of in dreamland [Adult Crystal again: obviously! Dramatic much?].
I’ll spare you the other eight pages.
The first-kiss and I didn’t work out. But two years later, I accidentally fell in love with one of his best friends. And though I initially fought it desperately, (I mean, c’mon! Nick Kupper? It was tradition for me to reject him. Papa from Fiddler on the Roof and I are in full agreement about the value of traditions), I had to eventually admit to myself that something bigger than the two of us was taking over. In a matter of weeks, I went from not even really liking to him to waking up thinking about his smile.
And his lips. And then I would freak out. I couldn’t kiss Nick; it was just too weird. But apparently, teenaged Crystal was okay with weird.
Sometimes, simple is the best way to go. We did kiss that night. It wasn’t earth-shattering. In fact, I didn’t even write about it in my journal until late December. And even then I glossed over the fact, because, after all, I had a reputation to maintain (apparently only to myself) and I didn’t want to admit this one little fact, even to the privacy of my beloved journal:
I wanted to kiss this boy every day for the rest of our lives.
Since then, plenty has changed. We’re no longer high-schoolers snatching quick kisses before the bell rings. I rarely worry about the state of my facial T-Zone as he leans in. My parents haven’t gotten us in trouble for making out on the front porch in years. His house on Cloverdale — the place where it all began — belongs to someone else. When I drive by, I wonder if the owners have any idea how sacred that spot of carpet in the living room is — that place where we stood, arms wrapped tightly around each other, tentatively making our first imprints on the other’s soul.
I used to keep count of the times our lips met. That practice had to go by the wayside fairly quickly.
Since then, we have kissed in two continents (soon to be three!), four countries and six states. We have kissed behind waterfalls and in lakes. We have liplocked while driving (with no accidents or fender-benders, I’ll have you know), dancing, holding our babies, running and biking. We have sneaked kisses while dashing out the door, dressing screaming little ones in pajamas and doing yardwork. We have attempted to memorize each other’s features before TDYs and deployments, knowing we wouldn’t be able to kiss again for months.
We have kissed through three pregnancies and subsequent non-sleeping newborns. We have connected through nine years of marriage and 11 years of togetherness.
Have we changed as people since we first kissed exactly 11 years ago today? Of course. We’ve fought; we’ve broken each others’ hearts; we’ve used our mouths as weapons when we spoke words of division and negativity. Then, energy spent, we’ve picked up the puzzle pieces and glued our marriage back together again…
With a kiss — our mouths no longer used to hurt, but heal.
Maybe I’m no longer the unsure teenager convinced she isn’t worthy enough of a cute boy’s kiss. But I AM still that same girl floating on a cloud every time Nick leans in.
Because I still want to kiss this boy every day for the rest of our lives.