I thought of someone else while I kissed my boyfriend.
“I did that once,” I said.
“Oh no you didn’t.” said Heather. She’s the girl who would do anything, and even she wouldn’t do that. She laughed, sure, but oh shit.
I was sixteen years old! Is that a good enough defense? Having a boyfriend was something I shrugged and agreed to because otherwise my Friday nights were boring at best. Listening to indie bands while I scrolled through blogs in the darkness of my bedroom was comforting, sure, but I needed something to do with my life. Sports teams didn’t want me, and I was too cool for the school newspaper, or at least I wanted people to think so. I used to have a crush on Luke freshman year, but I had forgotten all about him during the summer after I met Johnny Dessen. John-ny Des-sen. Those four syllables clicked out off my tongue like a prayer. The sound of his name was the clearest, truest thing. I would listen to his breathing all night if I could. I could stare into those brown eyes forever.
Luke had brown eyes too. But for some reason his didn’t remind me of dark hot chocolate or an endless night sky that I could empty all my secrets into. No, Luke’s eyes were just brown. I would have done anything to be with Johnny, and I thought that he felt the same the night of the birthday party where we met. He had asked my friend for my number, and she told me this information in a desperate but excited don’t tell him I told you sort of way that only a teenager would emit. But days passed and no call came, and soon enough he was dating a girl with blue eyes.
It became apparent Luke liked me. He was cute and we had little jokes. And like I said, I was bored. I daydreamed about Jonny being with me wherever I went. But I agreed to date Luke, because he was a good choice and what else would I do? Mope in my bedroom and scratch Johnny’s name out in my notebooks? My feelings for Johnny weren’t going anywhere. So I figured I might as well date someone else to distract those daydreams.
Luke and I dated for a couple of months. We shared some cute moments, some private jokes. He would walk me to class and we’d kiss before I sat down at my desk. Sometimes Johnny would see us together and a thrill would run through me. Take that! But after a while, I grew a little bored of Luke. Sometimes he would ask to hang out and a roll of dread would fall over me. It got to the point where I’d rather be bored in my bedroom than bored with him. At least alone, I could think about Johnny.
Until that night I did it with Luke. We were in his living room, and his mom wasn’t far away. Saturday Night Live was on television, which was my idea but to my dismay, Luke wasn’t familiar with any of the sketches. While Luke laughed in confusion I was bitterly reminded that Johnny loved SNL. We watched for a bit, but then fell into a round of making out. It was exciting and experimental at first, but after a while I grew a little tired. The feeling of his mouth was like a toothbrush or a dentist’s gloved hand. It was nothing exciting, really just an object in the way of my mouth swallowing properly. God I just want this to end. I remember thinking. When is this over? I don’t know what to do. Then I thought of those brown eyes. And then it all turned on.
Imagining kissing Johnny turned me into a neon sign. It was hot. I felt like I was in the sort of movie scene you turn away from when your parents are in the room. I was electric. This sort of kissing was what I had always dreamt of. And when I opened my eyes, I realized I still was.
Not too long after that, Luke broke up with me on the phone. I was shocked. I felt like I had missed a step going down the stairs. He said he wanted to “go on a break”, but we never spoke again. I remember feeling completely humiliated, and almost angry that he beat me to the end the relationship. I was supposed to break up with him! I was the one who was bored!
Looking back, maybe I was a shitty girlfriend not only in my mind, but outwardly as well. Maybe he could tell I wasn’t interested. Maybe he could tell I didn’t care. And that wasn’t fair to Luke. I might have been bitter that Johnny didn’t like me, but that’s just the way the world is. I didn’t really like Luke, and he deserved to be mad at me for that. I had made a promise to be his girlfriend, and I did an awful job carrying that out. Johnny showed no promises to me. I hardly even knew him. I let a silly crush—something only in my mind—get in the way of something real. And I know now that next time I’m about to kiss someone and it doesn’t make me feel like a daydream, then maybe I’ll put down the Chapstick and say see you later.
The featured image accompanying this piece, entitled ‘The Cartographer’, has been used with the permission of artist, Margaret Orr.
Margaret Orr lives in Cape Town, and believes in regular art practice to keep her sane, and to allow her a playful escape from her day job as executive coach.
Her medium of choice is collage, both traditional and digital.
Her work is available online at http://www.redbubble.com/people/hogret.