In 8th grade I had my first kiss. It was with a boy one of my good friends had a crush on. I am an ass, I know. He had liked me for a while and it was his birthday and he begged me for a kiss “as a present.” When that didn’t really work he was able to guilt me into it by saying how his birthday would be sad without it. So we kissed in the woods.

I realize that that sounds creepy but I am a skier and have been for as long as I can remember. So we were in the woods in three feet of snow off of a side trail, kissing. Well, just kiss, singular. A peck. Nothing more and it couldn’t have lasted five seconds. The boy that I kissed was on my ski team and about two years younger than me.

So began 2 patterns that would continue to appear in my life: I home wreck/can’t turn a guy down even if he’s with a friend of mine and I like younger guys.

A little later in the year I had my second kiss and this time it was a make out session. I was at a birthday party for a family friend who was in the grade below me. Kate was there too. She and I were upstairs in the birthday boy’s bedroom listening to one of his (clearly tone deaf) friends bang on his drum set. A bunch of people were setting up a game of manhunt and Kate joined. I stayed behind in the bedroom. After a minute a boy who had been there the whole time but had taken a seat in the closet spoke to me. “She’s so hot, I wish she would hook up with me,” he was referring to Kate. Of course he was talking about Kate, that’s how 99.9% of the male population talked about Kate. Nobody ever talked about me like that. I got defensive as if his fantasy with Kate was somehow a direct blow at me. I told him that Kate didn’t hook up and that she was a prude but I on the other hand was the one who flirted and got with guys. I did flirt a lot so that part was true…. The boy in the closet then stood up and looked me in the eyes, “do you want to make out?”

I wish I could say that I had genuinely wanted to kiss this boy but I didn’t, he wasn’t cute and I didn’t really know him. Nonetheless, my answer was yes, to spite Kate, who had no idea any of this was even going on.

It was horrible. He repeatedly bumped my head against the backboard of the bed and had Tostino’s chips all on his tongue. I left the party on the verge of tears.  I think I was mad at myself but I was also hurt because he had wanted Kate first, just like everybody else.

Kate seemed to hurt me even if she wasn’t directly doing anything to me. Who she was made me feel bad about myself. Maybe for stupid reasons like what boys said when she walked past or maybe because she didn’t treat me well. I was her bitch. Her scapegoat.

At soccer practice Kate would trip me and pull at my shirt and body check me then when I would fight back it was my fault and our coach (her father) would suddenly be yelling at me and Kate would be on the side watching, blaming all of the antics on me.

I would love to tell you that this was a closed incident but I can’t because it wasn’t. I was all of my friends’ scapegoat. I was hyper and mischievous which made my arguments invalid when a parent was confronting me about something I had “done.” Done is in parentheses because most of the time I hadn’t done all of whatever I was being blamed for and sometimes I hadn’t even done any of it. People would get mad at me easily.   I remember one time I was at a friends house with a few people, Kate included. I accidentally knocked my glass of water over onto a kitchen countertop as I reached for another object. Sarah, whose house we were at, picked up the roll of paper towels which I had been reaching for to clean up the mess and starting smacking me with it. I mean absolutely beating me with a paper towel roll. Sarah was bigger than me. She was screaming at me, she chased me out of her house and locked the door. Kate never said or did anything to help me, she just watched. Sarah’s parents wouldn’t even let me back in because they assumed I had done something deserving of being locked out. I will never like Sarah again.

As I was the one to always get in trouble, I was also the designated class clown so teachers would ream me out as well.

I am of course not innocent! I once threw french fries all over the back of my friends new Cadillac Escalade. I spoke back to adults who bothered me and I liked to play inappropriate pranks on people. But that didn’t mean I deserved to be everybody’s punching bag.

By the end of the seventh grade I didn’t want to spend time with my friend group so I set out in search of new ones. Eventually I found one, Ali. Our last names were similar which meant that when teachers did assigned seats, we were always next to each other. We became best friends fast. This was amazing at first but you’ll have to wait to find out what changed.

In the meantime I had also met a boy. Actually, I met him thanks to Kate who shoved us together at an awkward middle school dance. His name was Max and he too was my best friend. I had known him for a whole summer before meeting Ali and happened to have the worlds largest crush on him.

I consider him to be my first real kiss, the one I wanted to count because he, as a person, counted to me.



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