You Shouldn’t Have Kissed Me
I wish you hadn’t kissed me. I wish that time would have stopped completely, right as you leaned in, and I would have had a moment to gather my thoughts — to shake my head in a wave of better decision-making — and walk away. Even that knot in my stomach, as thrilling and terrifying as it was, would have had time to untangle if given enough well-reasoned thought and a few feet of distance. I could have looked at you, appreciated you the way one might a well-carved statue, and decided against it. I may have even touched your face, frozen in that perfect moment just before you close your eyes in a full embrace, and whispered in your perfectly-still ear that I will probably regret not having kissed you. But then I would have left you behind, and things would be so much easier.
Because you know — you must know, right? — that the way you kiss someone, the way you hold the nape of their neck lightly in your palm and bring them towards you, is as effective as it is unmistakable. You kiss like no one else, like someone who is at once exploring uncharted territory and walking a city he knows like the back of his hand. You knew, even if you wouldn’t admit it now, that leaning in and pulling me close was an act of conquering as much as a foreigner arriving in a strange new land, planting his flag and declaring to everyone he can reach that the peaks and valleys of this territory are now his.
It’s almost as though I can now pinpoint the border between our stages of interaction: before you kissed me, and after. I won’t deny that, before you pressed your lips to mine, I was interested in you. I was fascinated, taken the way a child might be with a brand-new toy that cannot be unwrapped quickly enough. But after we crossed that invisible line between us, after we broke down whatever pretend wall we had constructed between us with exasperating social norms, I was infatuated. In a way that I cannot explain, I had become intoxicated by the very feel of you. The way your fingers felt woven between my own, the way your lips felt against my earlobe, the way your hips pressed against mine in a touch which only implied what it longed to scream — it was something I needed, something that could not be recreated or replaced.
And now I am beholden to it, dependent on its constant affirmations of life and vitality. This feeling of youth, of beauty, of reciprocal desire that says, all at once, “I need you” and “Please need me in return” — it has become a fountain from which I must drink greedily, or waste away in thirst. I am overwhelmed with a fear that this must be unsustainable, that there is no gift which is given in such generous quantities, which is open for the harvest at all times of year. It only seems logical that, as though someone suddenly turned off a faucet, there will come a moment when this all runs dry. Only then will I be faced with the full repercussions of loving something so much, of wanting it so impatiently, of being desperate in a way I could not be bothered to hide.
But you have kissed me. You have shown me that there is something better, something greater, something which makes all other touch feel rough and ignorant. You have promised me something that you could easily rescind, something which you could give or take with the carelessness of a petulant child if you so chose. And I say you shouldn’t have kissed me with that same petulance. Perhaps there is a tiny part of me which resents you for having given me this, because I know I hold a constant weakness in the face of you taking it away some day. Of course you should have kissed me, of course I am glad you did, it is just that admitting means acknowledging just how much I depend on it — how much I now need to be kissed again, and again, and again.
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Even as I write this now I am debating whether or not to erase it all together.
When I say I’m in love with you, I mean I love the story I can tell to my next lover, about my ex-lover, about how beautiful things were, how intense, how storybook, what a couple we were, and how you gradually, inexplicably, painfully, bit by bit, disappeared.
“I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.”
I was 24 and, while not gay, ever since college I had been getting more attention from gay men than from heterosexual women.