I never thought much about kissing anyone until Dawn came along. I was never like Mary Anne, who used to get teary every time she saw people in movies kissing, and say things like, “They’re so in love.” Or like Claudia, who used to practise kissing on her pillow but then started practising on boys, way before me or Mary Anne even considered it.
Stacey came along and she was like Claudia, someone who’d had experience with boys, and it was like I was the only one who had absolutely no interest in it whatsoever. Mary Anne didn’t want to kiss the boys that we knew, but she wanted to kiss movie stars, and she told me she had dreams about it sometimes.
I started looking at people’s lips and people’s mouths and the way they ate, because I figured that you could tell if someone would be nice to kiss or not by all those things. The whole kissing thing still didn’t appeal to me, though. I tried to be interested in it and to imagine it, because if even Mary Anne was thinking about it then maybe there was something really wrong with me if I wasn’t.
It didn’t make sense. Boys were annoying, they weren’t cute. I didn’t get why anyone would want to kiss them.
And then Dawn moved to Stoneybrook. I didn’t like her at first, because she was Mary Anne’s new friend, and Mary Anne had always been my friend, and then their parents were dating and they shared all these things that I couldn’t be a part of, and it didn’t seem fair. But then I got to know Dawn and realised that she was pretty cool, and knew that she didn’t want to steal Mary Anne away from me. She just wanted to be friends with her. And she wanted to be friends with me, and that bit surprised me.
See, I knew I wasn’t ‘cool’. I didn’t really want to be. I was happy just being me. But I didn’t think any cool people would want to be friends with me. And Dawn was cool.
I’m not saying the rest of my friends weren’t, but me and Mary Anne and Claudia had grown up together, so that didn’t count, and Stacey was really Claudia’s friend, so that didn’t count. But Dawn did count. And I liked her, a lot. I thought she was really interesting and I admired the way she stood up for herself.
Then I noticed the way she ate, so carefully and purposefully devoting her entire mouth to the task, and I thought about kissing her.
I didn’t think it meant anything big. It was just one thought. And then she went off to California and didn’t come back until the tenth grade, so I didn’t think about it for all that time. I went out with a few guys but mostly I just tried to concentrate on babysitting and sports and school and all that. I told people that I wasn’t interested in a serious relationship at my age. I wasn’t really interested in any kind of a relationship but I’d realised that the older you get, the more people think that it’s strange. You’re supposed to want a boyfriend, I guess.
Dawn didn’t have a boyfriend either, even though guys were interested in her – she’s really, really pretty – so we hung out a lot, because Mary Anne had a serious boyfriend and Claudia and Stacey had not-so-serious boyfriends and she was the only person I could talk to who didn’t want to yap about boys.
And then I thought about kissing her again. I wondered whether it was just because I didn’t have a boyfriend, whether I was just trying to find someone to kiss, but then I thought about how I could be kissing this guy on the SHS track team who had asked me out the week before, and how I had kissed guys before, and how I still wanted to kiss her, and how it wasn’t just that she was available and right there, but that she was Dawn, and that I wanted to.
So I did. There were no fireworks or anything and I didn’t feel as though my entire world had changed, but I don’t think that really happens, not if you’re being honest with yourself. It was nice, though, and the grin on her face made me feel slightly tingly and giddy. It’s not that I’m turning into a mushy romantic or anything, but it was good to know that the whole kissing business could be fun, after all.