“Tricia, I just really want to kiss you.”  And I had no idea he wanted to at all.

It was the end of my senior year in high school, that time when the tension is palpable and the air seems filled with graduation cakes and announcements and tassles. The seniors and everyone who loves them – everybody has the fever of the leave-taking.

I spent all of my time in a fantastic social circle of band nerds and a cast of musical theatre stars. We were always together in some conglomeration of boyfriends, girlfriends, best friends – all a hormonal, socially hyper version of musical chairs. We were like Yahtzee dice that are loud and noisy in the cup, spilled out to land in different collections of dots and numbers and scores.

On one late night on a walk through somebody’s neighborhood, this boy I had spent a lotta-lot of time with confessed his love for me.

(I use ‘love’ loosely here. In retrospect, his affection was actually more of a ‘like’ for me, but that doesn’t have the same ring to it, no matter how much moonlight there is on a late spring evening.)

He said he had always wanted to kiss me, he still wanted to, and he hoped his chance wouldn’t pass him by before I left for college.

And so I promised him a kiss. “You decide when,” I said. “There’s a kiss coming with your name on it.”Happy Couple

We went back to the party, at whose house I don’t remember, with this quiet and simple knowing between us. This Peter Pan thimble of a gift just waiting for the giving and receiving.

A few weeks later, at the end of the last summer of my childhood, I went away to college. the kiss unredeemed.  It never happened.

Maybe he didn’t want to. Or maybe he did, and he never got the courage to follow through with the raincheck. Maybe the farewell got too intense for all of us. Maybe he respected me too much to lean in and close the deal, which has so often been the story of my life.

At any rate, it was my first encounter with the wish being greater than the payoff. The anticipation greater than the reward. It seems he didn’t really want to. He just wanted to want to.

Sometimes the thrill is in wanting the yes.  The thrill is in the hope.

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