That Weightless Feeling

There is something particularly magical about a first kiss with someone new. Or, at least, there used to be. Remember that feeling when your body gets so light that it feels as if you’re suspended in midair? It’s the closest feeling to free-fall that you can experience while planted firmly on the ground.

If I were to chart a graph following the emotional curve of my adolescent life, many of the peaks would be comprised of those weightless moments that have been permanently branded into my memory. One particular instance, however, retains more heat than the rest.

The summer before my junior year of high school I travelled to Ecuador on a service trip with an intimate group of my peers — one of them stood out. I kept stealing glances at her as we waited at the gate to board our plane. I prayed she was headed to Quito for the same reason I was.

Fast forward to the first night at the hostel. Her infectious giggle had me making wisecracks and measuring her reactions as we circled up for icebreakers. Even as horrible as I was at gauging these things at sixteen, I could tell she was into me. Fondling her blonde hair playfully and tilting her head slightly to peek over at me — only a fool could miss these tactics of tantalization akin to that of a curious puppy.

The trouble with a trip like this, however, was that the group leaders were under contract to do everything in their power to keep everyone’s genitals out of each other, so you’re not granted much co-ed alone time. About a week and a half into the trip, Abby and I finally got some space.

We found a quiet spot on a hammock where we dug into each other’s minds, coaxing out each other’s impressions of other group members and general life philosophies. I could feel the butterflies clamoring for their deliverance from my stomach as I imagined kissing the most beautiful girl I’d ever gotten this close with.

Sitting side-by-side, holding hands became lying down face-to-face cocooned by the mesh of the hammock. I leaned in and she stopped me, explaining she didn’t want things to be weird around everyone else. I was bummed, but I put on my best “I understand” face and worked to subdue the winged creatures in my stomach.

She yawned as our conversation tailed off and I offered to walk her back to the girls’ cabin. We stood, locked fingers and silently made our way over. Outside her door I was unsure of how I would say goodbye if I couldn’t kiss her. In the pitch darkness, I could just make out her silhouette as she turned towards me and took my other hand in hers. “Where are you?” she whispered. Her lips hit mine and my stomach shot into my throat as waves rippled down my spine. We said goodnight and I drifted back to my cabin where I lied in bed beaming at the rafters overhead.

My point is that no kiss has kept me up at night since I began college. I think back on hookups and can’t place the first kiss in almost any instance — thanks, alcohol! Magic in life comes in smaller doses as we grow older and experiences that were once novel become increasingly mundane.

I’m not dwelling on the past to condemn the present, but rather to illuminate the blissful moments we feel when we achieve something we want as badly as a sixteen year old wants to kiss his crush. These moments are still out there, and reminiscing on the feeling can galvanize us in chasing the dreams that come to fruition in the magical moments that movies and childhood memories are made of.

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