Close your eyes, and think about the first time you kissed someone special. Even little details stand out, like how you were dressed that day and what the weather was like.
Now try to remember a last kiss. That’s much harder, right? This sort of memory doesn’t come so easily. It can be painful, awkward or sad. More often than not, it’s something you’d rather forget.
Lately, I've been asking Californians to share their last kiss stories. I wanted to know what it was about these experiences that stays with people, as well as what they might all have in common. I was surprised by how many people were willing to share their last kiss stories, and how the memories, though often difficult, were positive, rather than filled with regret.
My junior year in college, I helped my roommate and friend Greg re-dye his hair pink, to piss off the director of a play he was in. The director was very conservative and seemingly didn't approve of Greg's gay lifestyle. We sat on the stoop of our house in the sun chatting and waiting for the dye to dry. Eventually, I had to go to class and Greg needed to go prep for his preview performance. When we said goodbye, we kissed each other and said “I love you.”
He died onstage that night of an undiagnosed heart condition. He was 20 years old. It was one of the biggest shocks I've ever had. Greg left a big hole in my life, but I don't think I would trade that pain for not having lived with him, and not having gotten to know him.
I met my girlfriend K.C. through a friend. We started emailing each other and decided to meet in person after about a month. We went to a little restaurant for our first date. About three minutes into our conversation, she got right to telling me what was important: that she had two incurable diseases she caught while being a nurse 30 years ago; that she was in so much pain all the time, she couldn't have sex; and that she was still legally married. I admired the way she didn't play games.
Strangely enough, K.C. didn't end up dying because of those diseases. She was part of a drug trial and was cured. But six months later, she was diagnosed with cancer. So I knew the last kiss was coming. One day, when I visited her, I kissed her on the couch at her home in Sonoma. That was the last time I saw her. She called me the night she passed away. K.C. went to sleep and never woke up. The world got a little darker after she left.
I met this guy in a San Francisco record store and we ended up going out on a date. We went for oysters. We were having a fun, casual time. Then, at the end of the evening, he lunged at me. It felt like he was coming from every direction. It was like an "omni kiss," where there's tongue and hands and this and that. It was so passionate and unusual.
Then I went out of town for a week for Thanksgiving [and came down with a cold]. By the time I got off the plane, I was in full-blown sick mode. But of course this guy still wanted to see me. It was a strange reunion because we couldn’t kiss. I was sick, so I couldn't breathe. Also, my nose was leaking. I couldn’t wait to get my health back so I could kiss him again.