My First Kiss and My Pounding Heart

Should I not be able to close my eyes and remember her face before I kissed her?

Today I was provided with a tiny reminder of my once hopeful and positive outlook on love and romance.

It is not a coincidence that I've found myself compulsively listening to "Then He Kissed Me" lately. The song is a neatly wrapped package of a couple falling in love with no games, no complications — albeit a little fast. Every fall I ask myself if I still believe in romance and the possibility of true love. When I used to have hope, I let the giddiness take me over. I reveled in the nervousness and the unknown. But the songs that used to supply the soundtrack for love and the unexpected now challenge me to figure out if I've lost all hope....

"The autumn wind feels as if it were you, and swayed through the fields where I once held you...." —Asobi Seksu

Fall and winter are the seasons for love. Every year when the leaves turn and I smell the crisp odor of burning wood in the air, look into the gray cool sky that is scratched by the branches of the quaking trees, I look for someone to get cozy with. Starting with Halloween, punctuated by Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's, there are so many events and moments to spend with a beautiful person.

"I think we're alone now, doesn't seem to be anyone around. I think we're alone now, the beating of our hearts is the only sound...." —Tiffany

Somewhere along the way my favorite physical thing to do with a girl, kissing, lost its magic. My second kiss defined what I wish I could feel every time I kiss a girl. It was on our seventh grade camping trip. My "girlfriend" and I wanted to try our lips again at kissing (it was a disaster the first time). With Tiffany's rendition of "I Think We're Alone Now" running through my head, I frantically looked for an isolated place to try to kiss my girlfriend. We finally got away to a little path in the woods. I remember looking at her face, totally nervous and confused but loving the feeling. I could hear the voices of classmates in the distance. My heart was beating so fast it felt like it would fly out of my chest. In the air, I smelled the burn from distant campfires, and felt the final gasps of summer. And in all of this chaos, we tried our second kiss. Forgive me, but meeting someone in a bar or sneaking off to a corner or kissing a girl at my apartment and wondering where the kiss fits in amongst all the other games just doesn't feel like that kiss did.

"You're it. No, you're it. Spirit, desire." —Sonic Youth

For years I've been trying to find that feeling again — the boundless energy, confusion, euphoria that is the new relationship. When was the last time it was as simple as "you're it." Every time I liked a girl it felt like she was the only one that could give me that feeling. I don't want to understand the feeling. I just want to feel it and let it take me where it's going to take me. It's a simple feeling, but powerful. It's spirit. It's desire.

But life's practical demands take away from this feeling. How can I balance that against someone who is trying to make ends meet financially, trying to get where they want to go professionally, dealing with all of their scars — scars incurred from every time they thought that person was "it."

After high school and college, magic is harder to find. We try to prevent ourselves from getting lost in feelings. We want to understand and control everything. I think true love is sacrificing one's self to a feeling that's impossible to understand. You feel the spirit, the desire. You feel that person is "it." You don't get it; all you know is that you want to be near them, and that's good enough.

Am I supposed to be such a perfectionist? Am I too much of a dreamer, thinking every last kiss, every last moment with a girlfriend should be something that leaves me breathless and left in blissful confusion? Should I not be able to close my eyes and remember every sound, the beats of my heart, the way the holiday bustle swirled around her face before I kissed her?

Every fall, and every time I listen to "Then He Kissed Me," I'm torn between hoping I can find that but reprimanding myself for expecting things to be the way they were when I was carefree....