I was 12 going on 13 … He was about three years older than I was.
For the purpose of this blog, let us call him Robert.
I don’t quite remember how it all started but I know that I was a rather popular 12-year-old with the older boys. I was … ahem … kind of pretty and so these boys used to come up to me on the pretext that they wanted to use me as an intermediary to meet my sister whom they assumed to be as pretty as I was.
Within what must have been a period of about three months, I was spending more time with Robert than with my own peers; after class, when he came back from playing football (soccer), after supper, before lights out and after lights out. He, however, never once touched me up in any sexual way (it was the other grubby boys who did) and never attempted more than to just … talk. But we held hands a lot as we talked.
Sitting on the bed beside him, his football cleats stank and his football socks clearly needed washing. But dirty football cleats and smelly socks had never smelled so good in my life. The truth is that I even adored the stench of Robert’s dirty soccer gear.
And then one night, after lights out, he kissed me. Here, too, I don’t know how it came about, but one moment we were holding hands and talking absentmindedly as we always did, and the next our lips were locked together. My world literally came to a standstill. I was transported into at least three stratospheres with ecstasy. It would be an understatement to say that, in that moment, I lost all my senses. Eventually, somehow, I managed to extricate myself from what seemed like an eternal lip-lock, and breathlessly but, strangely, calmly bade Robert goodnight and staggered to my bed. To this day, I have no idea how I got there or how I managed to climb the double decker. I don’t recall whether I slept that night or not but it is safe to say that my life was turned inside out with that kiss.
I had never been kissed by nor kissed anyone like that before; the gentleness, the passion, the naturalness of it was dizzying. That kiss remains to this day as vivid as though it were yesterday and I still find myself asking myself whether I have really ever felt as I did when Robert kissed me. Call it a childish crush but that was the first time that I actually felt like I was walking on cloud nine.
The following day, life carried on as usual. I met Robert on the way to class, we exchanged a cursory nod – like nothing had happened between us the night before – and went about our separate schools days. That night, we found ourselves on the same bed, holding hands and … yes we kissed again. It was then that it finally hit me that the first time had not been a dream after all. The second time was as intoxicating as the first and, again, I kind of tottered back to my bed in a daze. The questions as to whether this was really right were swirling in my mind of course, but what I felt was simply too good, too real for me to be bothered by the morality or correctness of what I was sharing with Robert. And the sharing went on for the rest of the term, with me staying up later and later, night after night, talking and kissing with what had now become the epicenter of my life. I was irretrievably, hopelessly in love.
Our affair spilled over into the mid-year holidays. I returned home for the holidays but not before we exchanged postal addresses. To me, Robert had the most beautiful handwriting I had ever seen next to God’s. I lived desperately for his love letters. And they came like clockwork, I think weekly. I devoured every beautifully crafted word and would read the sign off ” I love you” at least five hundred times. My letters were no doubt as deep and involved but it is not for me to describe them. Suffice to say that by this time I was a total emotional wreck over Robert.
We returned for the third and final term of that year. Robert had to read for the exams that would determine where he went for his high school. Our affair continued throughout that entire term and through his exams. As if sensing that time was running out, our kissing sessions became more frantic and our conversations took on added intensity.
Robert was a star student and, of course, he did well enough in his exams to qualify to return to the same school for his high school. Over the Christmas holidays, though, our letters became less intense and and frequent. By the time I returned for my next class in the new year, I had grown a litlte more of course. Robert returned a couple of months later as a high school student and he was now resident in the high school dormitory. We bumped into each other about two days after he returned to school, exchanged greetings and carried on. No words were needed for either of us to know that it was over. Interestingly, I wasn’t devastated or anything like that. Robert had shown me the best life of my young life and I couldn’t find it in me to see him as anything other than my first hero.
Of course I moved on to other conquests but none of the ‘affairs’ that happened thereafter (mostly with boys my age) reached the same level of intensity or wanton abandon. I guess I was older, less glassy eyed and therefore more guarded. Chances are, though, that it was a question of the first cut being the deepest.
As in Abba’s Our Last Summer, I gather that Robert is now working in a bank, a family man and a sports fan. How dull it seems … yet he still is the hero of my youthful dreams.
I can still recall, our first kiss, I can see it all …