“Since the invention of the kiss there have been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind.”
The Princess Bride (1987) – Grandpa (Peter Falk)”
Our romance was awkward at first. I very much felt like I was starting over, everything happening for the first time. I wanted to break the cycle of insanity in how to be a boyfriend and so I entered this new relationship selfishly. I wanted to be with her so I pursued her. I wanted to talk with her so I called her. But I was awkward. I was broken, a mess, trying desperately to figure out the bigger questions in life and how I fit into it all – if I mattered and if I cared about if I mattered. I did not know yet the language for my emotional experiences, so my default was a hurtful silence. She would touch some wounded part of me and I would wince and pull away, desperate not to, but I knew know other way but to retreat, to cut-off, longing to delete in order to feel the relief from the pain – to disconnect, to fragment.
Consequently my rhythm in the relationship was akin to stepping on my dancing partner’s toes – an awkward movement there, resulting in miscommunication and a need to figure out what is supposed to be happening here in this moment. She would reach for my hand and I would pull away, uncertain how to handle the moment, uncertain with myself, my emotions, scared to feel, scared to embrace, for I could see the pain, the loss, the trauma, right there in the shadows, and I didn’t know how to deal with those things yet.
Our first kiss was a tentative and exploratory idea between two conversationalists, who were figuring out this relationship identity we had put on. It was in my room one afternoon and we were singing worship songs with one another. At the end of one song she reached over and kissed me with the explanation that we were to “Greet one another with a holy kiss”. But it was an exploratory kiss, looking to see if there was something more than our desire for holiness hidden behind our awkward embraces. I kissed her back. Our first kiss. But not one of the five kisses. That would come later.
With every conversation and every moment that we would spend with one another we were growing closer together. When we could we would meet in the early morning to attend a morning prayer time at our church. We would meet for afternoon or evening walks, spending a lot of time walking along the rivers that meandered through this valley city, sitting on the benches in the community parks, and enjoying the night sky on the mountains that surrounded this valley. Then we would go back to our rooms and phone one another, talking into the early hours of the morning.
There was something very different about my connection with her then there was with any other girlfriend I had. When I would look at her, time would slow down and I would see her smiling, dancing, laughing, all in slow motion in front of me. My brain became a video recorder, capturing each moment in fine detail so I could replay it over and over again later, when we were apart. Her hair would toss in the wind, sun-rays weaving their way through her long brown strands, and just they way the sun would radiate through her hair – that very scene – that very moment in time – I would capture in my imagination and would play it again later with a long soulful sigh, akin to an actor overplaying a love scene in which a beautiful woman has caught his attention and she blew him a kiss from afar – that type of sigh.
Then there was her kiss. I had shared that my first kiss was with my teddy bear, which turned out to be a better kisser than what I had with my first girlfriend. The kisses since then were not much better. They were too wet, too sloppy, too dry, too tense, too something. Kissing was not something I looked forward to in any of my past relationships – it was simply something that needed to be done for the sake of the relationship. But with her – it was different. Very different. I wanted to kiss her. I wanted to taste her lips, to draw her in, to nibble and to brush lightly with my tongue, to tease and to entice, twirling, swirling, and with deep embraces where our lips – our mouths – would be locked into a moment that needed its own space, its own time to finish that which it had started – an incredible moment of intimacy between two lovers with something to tell each other with an intensity and urgency second to none.
As she talked to me through her touch I wanted to return the favor. I lacked the ability with spoken words to tell her how or what I was feeling. Verbally I was broken and disconnected to my emotional self, still trying to put the pieces together, but non-verbally I was a master linguist yearning for an audience, having been practicing alone for years and now that I had my audience I wanted to make sure I delivered my lines with perfection as to captivate and enthrall.
She is a few inches shorter than me. I am six feet and she is around five feet five inches. Her head can nuzzle into my neck as we stand next to one another. When we kiss standing up I bring my kiss to her from above with my head tilted slightly to one side and down, like an expert pilot coming in for a landing. But this also means that my size envelopes her, drawing her into myself, creating what we affectionately refer to as a ‘full body kiss’.
I take my long arms and reach around her back, perhaps with one hand resting open faced at the base of her neck and my other hand resting open faced at the base of her back, just slightly at the top of her buttocks. With a gentle firmness I leverage both of my arms and hands to pull her completely into myself as our lips lock. As we continue our long embrace, my one hand slides up her neck to the back of her head, playing with her hair but keeping her head supported as I communicate passionately through my lips what it is that my body wants to tell her. My other hand swoops across her backside, sliding up and down her back and onto her buttocks, keeping a firmness along the journey as to not let my lover go before the kiss is done.
This kiss, one of the five, came out of a desire to tell her how much I loved her but not able to find the spoken words yet to do the job well. This kiss, a response to her kiss, her invitation through her touch to share a story with one another with our bodies, an unspoken love language shared between two lovers, safe, secure, and incredibly intimate. I responded and I had a lot to say and still do to this day.
Our kisses, this full body kiss, would be mutually shared in some of our familiar places around this valley city. However, early in our relationship, one particular backdrop made emphasizing my point easier. It was located at one end of a foot bridge that spanned the river, joining two parks together. We would slide down the embankment to the water’s edge and right by the bridge column on the bank. Here, I would press her body up against the bank, with my body pressed up against her, and we would kiss, sharing the moments with the rushing water of the river by our feet, the birds chirping above as they hid in the trees, and away from the prying eyes of other pedestrians walking by.
Nature was redeemed. Love kindled. Language and emotional experiences explored. Passion unleashed.