I remember the very first time we kissed, walking me home, i could feel his unease, his anxiety.
This was our third date and even we, shy, socially awkward, a little plain, knew the rules, the expectations.
This date and the walk home, free of the social chaperone of the ever present friend, meant only one thing, a kiss.
I was 19 and this would be my first kiss and looking up at his face, serious, a little worried, I wondered if it was the first time for him too.
We stopped on the corner, a decorous distance from my home, lights still on in the front room, unheard of extravagance but I knew my father would be standing by the window, watching out, waiting for me to come home, checking his watch every 2 or 3 minutes.
We were not a going out family, my plain parents had produced 3 plain children and we had followed their lead, their social unease and stayed close to home. Happy enough in a routine of quiet meals, regular church attendance and steady jobs, our teenage years drifted by as we waited for something to happen.
My brother met a girl at church, steadily they saved for marriage and the inevitable arrival of another generation of plain, steady people.
My sister, casting a final despairing glance in the bedroom mirror made a different decision, became one of a new breed, a career girl with impeccable typing and shorthand qualifications and secretly, quietly, she too started saving and would at 25 amaze our parents by buying a tiny house and moving out.
At 19, I expected little and was generally proved right. There were boys of course, at church and in the neighborhood, boys my parents felt suitable, sensible, reliable, with good prospects and obedient daughter that I was, I accompanied them on visits to the cinema, the tea shops, the church hall dances but none had shown enough interest to make it to this landmark, the third date.
He was different, no more attractive than me, a hint of a stutter, a hesitancy in conversation but he noticed me, paid me attention, made me feel if not quite beautiful, then at least passable.
Walking home that evening, I realized something, I realized that I wanted him to kiss me and it was I that slowed at the corner, pivoted on my heels and stepped in front of him, forcing him to stop, forcing him to do something as I tilted my face up towards him.
The kiss, when it came though, was a surprise, passionate, warm, exciting and I felt myself melt for the first time into his arms and for the first time, but thank you god, not the last, I felt beautiful.
[For lovers of accuracy, I do know who the people in this photograph are, but wanted to write a piece unhampered by historical weight]