How Do You Kiss Someone for The First Time

My first kiss: the world’s most over-determined smooch a technically inept, slightly soggy and, ultimately, extremely awkward encounter. I was 11, and already going on 175cm (tall, gangly, uncoordinated). He was 13, and eye-level with my uninspiring chest. It all happened in a dark corner of a church social, to the vastly incongruous beat of Eve’s Let Me Blow Ya Mind. Needless to say, between the awkward first stares, the shuffle-dancing towards each other and the prekiss lean-in, my mind was not blown.

Instead, my pucker partner and I were cornered by a pastor with a flashlight and a grudge against prepubescent canoodlersand frog-marched out of the dingy hall. There was hell (and fire and brimstone) to pay, and we had to spend the rest of the evening blushing and staring at our contritely folded hands while Pastor Grudge prayed for us. But, despite all this, and my subsequent avoidance of pucker partner, church socials and Eve’s music, I considered my first kiss something of a triumph at the time. After all, everyone has to start somewhere your first-kiss story is either cute or cringe-inducing and at just 11 and already a self-appraising cynic, I knew cute wasn’t me.

One evening, I found myself exchanging glances with a guy across the patio at a friend’s braai. After introducing ourselves, we spent the whole night talking about everything from an article in Rolling Stone and Teju Cole’s latest novel to where I wanted my studies to lead. Although it was not love at first sight, I was excited about this new friendship. Over the next couple of months we met up almost every day and if we weren’t together, we talked daily. Towards the end of the year, he went back overseas, and the likelihood of him returning seemed slim.

While staying in constant touch over a nine-hour time difference, though, it became clear to me that the relationship was evolving from very good friendsto clearly it is a little more than that. Two months later he was back in Joburg and one evening, in his room, we kissed. I sat as stiff as a plank (his description), with my lips barely open and many thoughts running through my mind. I’d recently broken up with my ex; I was confused about whether it was a good idea to be with this man. I didn’t want him to be my rebound and I didn’t want to ruin a great friendship. But I got over the confusion. Two years later, I’m still kissing him

I’ve had a handful of experiences when it comes to a good old smooch. There have been teenage disasters, unexpected stumble-on-the-lips kisses, drunken party-in-the-club kisses and even kisses that sparked relationships. It might not sound like it from what I have written, but I’m actually a hopeless romantic and I take kissing very seriously. To me it is the thing that determines the connection, the thing that makes the pursuedecision for you but what if you never get the opportunity to kiss the one you secretly love? It was almost a year ago when a right swipe turned into a match, which started a conversation, which turned into a date, which blossomed into, well, a friendship. Purely platonic. I, on the other hand, had fallen.

Hard. His smile, his jokes, his crooked eyebrows, that foreign accent and the dimple in his cheek I noticed all of those things and more, but what would it be like to kiss him? Would it be passionate? Short-lived? Would I call the awkward card? Would he even go along with it? Or worse, would it be followed by regret? Trust me, I could easily fall into his arms right now, pour my heart out and pucker up, but what then? What if he does not feel the same way? Should I just simply move on? Truth is, I have thought about it too many times to count and the result is always the same: What ifis all I have right now, so I guess I will never know, because I’d rather dream than dare lose a (very special) friend.

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