Anthony Farrington’s “Kissing” is a beautiful patchwork of non-linear memories. He offers snapshots of his relationships and the magic they represent. He offers snapshots of fractured and broken connections. I love the idea that experiences, in some ways, are able to stand on their own. Maybe in hindsight we see that we were naive; maybe in hindsight we know that it would have been better for all involved to refrain from intimacy – physical and emotional. Maybe we hate ourselves for having loved someone. But our memories are sneaky, clumsy toddlers. Our memories find the ice cream and eat the whole pint. Our memories want these moments to remain precious, delicate, delicious.
I’ve kissed two people in my life – and when I say kissed I mean, really smooched. Really just went for it. The first man I kissed was my first boyfriend, and the second was my second boyfriend. My second boyfriend also happens to be my soulmate and the person I married. I know, only two? For me it was enough.
I always took kissing very seriously. You know, first there would be some very intentional arm brushing. All your senses are engaged in this kind of arm brushing. You feel every arm hair, every texture, every time the arm you’re touching moves closer or away. It’s easy to take things very personally at this stage. They move their arm away: they never want to see you again. I always had a very fraught relationship with this stage of touching.
Then there is the handholding stage of touching. This is the stage in which you talk about things that you wouldn’t talk to just anyone about. You know, your past relational wounding, tension in your family. Anything goes when you’re holding hands. Handholding usually takes place before you are comfortable looking each other in the eye. That comes much, much later. Handholding also is the time wherein the hand holders have discussion regarding whether or not they will be publicly seen as a romantic couple of people. It must be because at this time they are often literally in public, being seen holding hands. Emotional and logistical discussions happen during the handholding stage.
My first kiss happened when I was 21. Like I said previously, I took kissing very seriously. I also had an ongoing joke with myself that I would have my first kiss before my braces were removed. I thought it would be a good story. So I met someone who I thought was quite funny and was a friend of friends of mine and decided he’d be the one to receive my first, sloppy and unrehearsed smooch.
No pretense surrounded this kiss. We were walking one evening and I just said, you know, I’m getting my braces off in a week or so, so I’d like to be kissed before then. And I’d like you to kiss me. And so he did. On the sea wall in the dark. After the first one I said, thank you. Did you feel my braces? And he thought that was a peculiar thing to ask after a kiss.
That first kiss was blurry and weighty; sweet like wine. I knew, for the first time, that I had arms, legs, a collarbone, and a belly. I knew that I could love with my body. I stammered my way into a new language. I was a woman. I was awake.