A Christian writer learns about life and love from his first kiss.
Tyler Blanksi is an author and musican based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. This is an excerpt from his book Mud & Poetry.
I used to think I was the perfect boyfriend, but that was before I had a girlfriend. In my youth I had enough virginity and books on courting to build a tower to the nonhuman. The view from up there was good. Gods were forged and girls swooned, particularly over the silver ring I wore on my finger, which shone with all the brightness of chastity and good intention. I was as green as an unripe banana. 5 Kissing Mistakes To Avoid
I didn’t have a real girlfriend until I was a sophomore in college. She was as shapely as a mermaid and loved Christ and cigarettes and good coffee—a powerful amalgamation—and all my stars seemed fixed in her orbit. Her name was Jess, and she was a post-pothead who had kissed a lot of boys. I was a 19-year-old prude who had smoked pot only once and had never kissed a girl; yet, for all this, she was gracious unto me. We kissed for the first time after a techno party. I had covered my face in an invisible paint that glowed under a black light, and after all the guests left, the paint slowly covered her lips and face. I thought kissing was like licking an ice-cream cone, which is probably why she kept laughing as she taught me what to do, and a lot of what not to do, with my awkward tongue and teeth and lips. At sunrise I walked Jess home, grateful and covered in glow paint, surprised by how different she looked outside the thrill of the ultraviolet light. MWAH! 5 Scientifically-Proven Reasons Kissing Makes You Healthier
I hadn’t planned it that way at all. I’m usually not one of the techno beat, black light, and glow paint ilk. But real life is never quite like what we map out beforehand, especially people; especially kisses.
High school girls often make lists outlining sought-after attributes of future husbands: short hair, lots of money, no tattoos or piercings, probably wearing pleated khakis. I don’t like lists. Whether the tattoos or the money, I never seemed to make the cut; but that’s not the only reason why I don’t like the idea of making a list. Lists are too limiting. When you meet someone, wouldn’t you want more than what you thought up yourself? If I actually met the woman of my dreams, I would meet nothing but the hardcover, feminine edition of my own imagination. I’d want to keep her, for sure, but as one might keep a collector’s item—unopened and with the original dust jacket. It would be boring. I would rather be taken aback, surprised by how very different this woman is, not comforted by how perfectly she fits into my checklist. Dating Red Flags: Do You Ignore Them? [VIDEO]
Don’t get me wrong. It’s good to know what you like and what you don’t like. Sometimes you just have to lay down the law: I’m sorry, I can’t date you because you have a Bluetooth cell-phone earpiece stuck in your ear, you smoke, you sport a Calvin-peeing sticker, you don’t look better when I drink, you drive a PT Cruiser, and so on. But still, as a general principle, I don’t like the idea of the suitor-sweetheart checklist. It tends to close more doors than it opens.
I work part-time at a local coffee shop with a girl named Catherine. I love Catherine because she’s a liberal and a vegetarian and because she’s not afraid to disagree with me. She says she’s waiting for her Elliott Smith (a singer who died under tragic circumstances in 2002). She listens to his albums all the time because his music speaks to her heart. This is beautiful. If for some reason I were to make a list of what I’m looking for in a spouse, it would begin with this: that she speaks to my heart, that I could carry her heart in my heart.
What I learned from my first kiss is that you have to listen. I sometimes wonder if love is the great iconoclast. True love rips apart whatever early images of perfection we might conjure. We can’t project our grandiose plans onto others. What you have before you is a real person, not an idea. That first kiss probably looked like a program about a lion hunting on the Discovery Channel. After the long chase the lion is happy to chomp and shake its prey, oblivious to anything but its sated appetite. It wasn’t until I learned to step back, to listen, to put aside my assumed familiarity and acknowledge how unfamiliar I actually was, that I began to learn how to kiss.
And, as far as I can tell, this is also the great secret to marriage and sex, and the whole of love.