I miss my husband and I’ve been meaning to blog our love story like I’ve seen so many other bloggers do, so I thought that for the next week or so, while we wait for him to return from his mission trip and I have some extra time on my hands, it would be fun (for me, I don’t know about you) to take a break from my regularly scheduled programming to write it out. Here goes Part 1…
The First Kiss
It was a Saturday afternoon in November, 1998. We were freshmen and our honors English class was studying Romeo and Juliet. (I realize that there is no cheesier way to start a love story than that sentence, but that’s what happened.) The class had been divided into groups of four and told to select a scene. Our group decided that for our project we would take the balcony scene and act it out in two different eras, to illustrate that the story was timeless. Lauren and Gene would dress in costume and do it, as written, live in the classroom. I was shy and uncomfortable speaking in front of people, so the group decided that Eddie and I would record a video of ourselves acting out a modern day version and play it for the class when it was our turn to present. We would film it at my house because, of all our limited choices for a location, my parents’ house was best-suited for the scene. Lauren, our group member who had also been my best friend since the second grade, would be there to operate the camcorder.
We translated Shakespeare’s words to the best of our ability and I stood on the back porch and listened to one of the most popular boys in our class confess his (scripted) love for me while my BFF caught it all on camera. I don’t remember anything about the actual filming other than having nervous butterflies. I’m no actress and I hate public speaking. And I really liked this boy. This was not news, though, EVERY girl in our class liked him. He was charming and flirtatious and funny and smart and, best of all, he was fresh meat. We attended a very small private pre-K- 12th grade school and most of our classmates had been together since at least kindergarten. Eddie came along at the start of ninth grade. Throwing a new boy into the mix was like throwing one bone into a kennel with a dozen hungry dogs.
Eddie was not just any boy. He was tall (a rarity among high school freshman) and tan and athletic and he was in the honors program with us. Sporty AND smart. He wasn’t going to stay single for long. All week I had been hearing things from other girls like, “You’re doing Romeo and Juliet with him? I would kill for that!” and “Do you think he’ll be in your bedroom?!” I seriously doubted he would ever be allowed in my bedroom. I also seriously doubted he would ever like me. Sarcasm, bad hair, and diluted fashion sense I had in spades, but the ability to snag a popular boyfriend? Not so much.
And yet, there we were an hour later. Maybe it was because Lauren was with us or because we were working on a school project, I don’t really know why. My parents had never allowed a boy in my bedroom before that and they never allowed it again, but that particular day we found the three of ourselves sitting on my bed, our project completed, waiting for my mom to finish doing whatever she was doing for my siblings until she could drive Lauren and Eddie home. The combination of boredom and adolescence only ever leads to one thing. So, naturally, we started playing Truth or Dare.
I always hated Truth or Dare, especially with boys. Answering the Truth questions was embarrassing and I was almost never brave enough to pick Dare. Lauren and Eddie took turns daring each other to do stupid things. After all, there are limited options in a teenage girl’s bedroom. “I dare you to try to squeeze into one of Steph’s shirts, Eddie.” Or “I dare you to hold this binder clip on your nose for a full minute, Lauren.” Once it became clear that the dares weren’t going to be so bad, I felt a little braver. Also, I was willing Lauren with every fiber of my being to read my mind and dare him to kiss me or vice versa. She knew how much I liked him. Of course, like everyone, she liked him too, so that had about as much of a chance of happening as me daring him to kiss her.
He looked at me and smiled.
“Steph? Truth or Dare?”
“Dare.” The familiar anxiety started spreading in the pit of my stomach. Do not puke.
“I dare you to kiss…” Please say you. Do not say Lauren. Please say you. Please say you. Oh God, what if he does say him and he’s not talking about his mouth? I’m going to die. His eyes darted around my room, probably sensing my discomfort. There was a stuffed Dopey, the dwarf from Snow White, sitting on my pillow. “…Dopey.”
What? He’s daring me to kiss a stupid stuffed toy? Um…okay. That was the dumbest dare of all time. At least my anxiety was gone. I reached behind me, grabbed the toy, and gave it a quick kiss.
“That wasn’t much of a dare,” I teased him, finding my confidence again.
“Well…I’m pretty Dopey.” His eyes were kind and his tone was playful. Is he actually flirting with me?
“You could kiss me?” He said it gently and looked directly at me with such sincerity. He was confident and sweet and clear in his intentions, but he asked like it was a question, as if he was putting the ball in my court and it was fine with him, whichever way I chose.
Holy crap. Did he just say that? Am I breathing?
I nodded slightly, titled my head, and leaned in to just one quick, awkward kiss between two teenagers.
One kiss that was the beginning of everything.