The Kiss That Redefined My Life

After Kissing Rachael

Just give me your lips for just a moment
And my imagination will make that moment live.
Oh, give me what you alone can give
A kiss to build a dream on.

- Louis Armstrong, A Kiss to Build a Dream On

We all know how awkward first dates can be. I think it’s even more so when meeting someone face to face for the first time after you’ve gotten to know them online. Text and email both have this strange ability to drill through the walls people erect to protect themselves. People open up more and will disclose their deepest desires and secrets when communicating online long before they usually will in the more traditional dating scenario. Still, no matter how well you think you know the other person online, you’re never absolutely certain until you physically meet him or her, read the body language and hear the inflection in his or her voice. Sometimes when you meet someone, you realize you’re more infatuated with the online adaptation than reality.
Rachael and I had experienced our first date together. I can’t say it was magical. Rachael later admitted that she was having her doubts about things for most of the date. Later I found out how close I was to being ousted by another guy she saw later that same day. Ouch!

The problem in the early stages of a relationship between two married people is that there is no middle ground. When you’re single, you can sit across from each other in the booth at the restaurant and gawk at one another. You can reach for her hand and caress the back of it with your thumb and blow her a kiss. You can invite each other over and have movie night while snuggled innocently on the couch, entangled in the arms of one another. There are plenty of places to enjoy those early phases of a romantic relationship and the pleasures of blatant flirtation, a cozy hug and the long, drawn-out kisses that never seem to end.

Enjoy a nice public lunch or dinner with your affair sweetheart, and you consciously have to keep the flirts and signals to a bare minimum, for one never knows who may be watching or walking in the door at some point. On the other hand, although the confines of a hotel room guarantee privacy for the infatuated couple, that step implies something for which the couple may not be ready for. People in the early stages of an extramarital relationship find themselves returning to their teenage days, making out in the backseat in the parking lot after dinner.

It is for this reason that I was so delighted to find that, although it was late November, the weather was going to be like early April, which meant that I could take my date to the park, one of the few middle-ground settings available. It is classic romanticism: a blanket, a bottle of wine, a picnic lunch, a poem, and you have all the ingredients for creating the atmosphere for that first real kiss.

Hollywood has made countless millions hyping up that magical kiss it has convinced is out there. In some ways, Hollywood has set the bar so high that reality can’t measure up to the lofty, dreamlike expectations many have for what that first kiss with that special person will be like But even screenwriters never could have dreamed of a scene in which a romantically starved writer and musician joins lips with a woman of Rachael’s extraordinary nature and beauty. Although some of the contributors to this book have chosen to do so, it is not my modus operandi to kiss and tell, so I will not describe the many kisses I experienced with Rachael that day. It would be futile to attempt to do so anyway. Instead I will share an email I sent her the following day that describes the lingering impressions of her kiss upon me:

Dearest Rachael:

I have broken rules that I have never thought of breaking, but that’s because I never experienced yesterday before. Historians define history by BC and AD. After yesterday, there is BKR and AKR (Before Kissing Rachael and After Kissing Rachael) now in my life, and it is from those points that I must reference time now.

I had just fed you all that philosophical gibberish about relationships and married people and how they can’t disperse the energy of their attraction to others and how they have to keep their desires and stories to themselves. Yes, I had it all figured out. I thought I was sooooo smart. I thought I was like Socrates when it came to romance.

And then I kissed you yesterday. I held you yesterday. I stared at your face yesterday, and suddenly I realized that there is now a BKR and AKR. I realized that after experiencing your kiss, which still lingers on my lips, I want to tell people about you--to brag about you. I want to walk into a bar with your picture, showing strangers your photo, telling them that this gorgeous woman was just in my arms. I want to climb to the highest skyscraper in Atlanta and shout out to the city that I think Rachael likes me.

And so, not only did I tell Billy and Justin all about you, but I emailed them your picture, something that in BKR was always a no-no for me. I had to show it to someone so that person could see how gorgeous you are, see why I’m so excited and see why there is AKR now.

And so now I can’t recite to you any of my philosophical married romance gibberish, because that was from the tidiness of BKR. Now I am in AKR, and all that smart-sounding gibberish just turned into bullshit.

It is Tuesday morning, and I wish I was holding you, staring at your face, and experiencing your kiss. I wish I had a confidant that I could tell how I love when your hair falls over your left eye and how when I push back your hair, I can see your entire face and soak it in. I could tell them about your eyes, about your skin, and about your lips. I’d probably get frustrated because my mind hasn’t been able to memorize every millimeter of your face yet, so I couldn’t tell them about everything. But that’s a good thing, because it means I have hours and hours more to stare at you and memorize your features.

Someone tell me that the thirst for her exemplified behind that email isn’t real. Someone tell me the energy behind that email isn’t tangible. Someone tell me there isn’t a man in the world that wouldn’t long to experience the passion that generated that email. Someone tell me that there isn’t a woman alive who wouldn’t welcome such fervent thoughts of romantic conviction from a man with whom she was involved. Someone tell me that this written declaration of the heart of a married gentleman for a married woman is of lesser value than that of a single man pursuing the heart of a single woman. Someone tell me that the beauty described in that email isn’t worth a risk--isn’t worth a step into the abyss.

The next day, Justin and I exchanged text messages.

Me: I can’t stop thinking about her, Justin
Justin: I know dude. I’ve been there.
Me: It’s like your whole ******* world just got turned upside down and you have no idea what to do next.

If Justin says he’s been there, I won’t dicker with him. Maybe he has. There’s not much I’m sure of anymore in AKR--only that I know I long to hold Rachael in my arms and kiss her once more, again and again.

This story is from my Book, The Tangled Web We Weave, by Ryan Bradley, available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
ryanbradley ryanbradley
46-50, M
Nov 4, 2013