The Tree Kiss

I kissed someone in a tree once.

At least, I think I did. The mind has a way of letting go of memories we don’t pay attention to, and as adults we’re left with hazy fragments of the past, a little unsure if the memory was real life or just a dream once rendered.

If my mind is not being deceitful, then I kissed a boy named Bentley in a tree once.

We were dating in the way that eighth graders date–reluctant hand-holding out of sheer obligation, awkward forced conversations. That place in your pubescent phase where you want to be around your crush, but it’s so painfully sweaty and nerve-wracking to be around them. Bentley was that person for me, and our place of loitering was the local park (a convenient stroll for us unlicensed fools).

And being eighth-graders, of course our confidence was grounded in showing off. So after school one October day, (it was probably a Thursday; Thursdays are so troublesome) when the two of us and three of our  friends were sitting around the swing set, good ol’ Bentley boy sized up a nearby sappy  tree and made for the top.

And also, being eighth-graders, we were far less superior than in our minds, so Bentley struggled to even accomplish the first branch. He had his arms locked around the branch above his head and attempted to walk his feet up the trunk to wrap them around that branch. Slipping shoes. Sore hands. Six attempts. And then–success.

I watched, embarrassed. (You know, how eighth-grade girls are timid to claim their embarrassing boyfriends; can you blame them though?) He crawled up a few more branch levels.

“Come on up!” he shouted to me, grinning.

I was one for adventures. I had just watched the new King Kong movie and was desperate to explore a Skull Island of my own, so a tree seemed miniscule and doable in comparison.

“All right,” I replied.

Well, I struggled a little (the bark was so unforgiving on my soft hands), but I threw my legs around the branch and pulled myself up, scampering up to his branch. “Hey,” I sighed, my breathing irregular from the pursuit.

We sat there, feeling awkward in the silence, but also feeling awkward in the small conversation we created.

“It’s pretty cool up here,” I said.

“Yeah. Climbing trees is fun.”

“Yeah. I love trees.”

“Look, there’s where we were a minute ago.”

“Yeah. I see it.”

“Crazy.”

“Yeah.”

I have a feeling (not founded in fact, just in pure instinct) we both thought it would be cool to say we kissed in a tree, and so we waited to see who would be brave enough to just do the damn deed.

Eventually, I started squirming closer to him (oh, the sweat pouring from my armpits, the dangerous speed of my heart beating), and he leaned into me a little more. A kind of jerky Are-you-trying-to-kiss-me?-Is-this-going-to-result-in-a-kiss-or-am-I-not-reading-this-situation-correctly? tango. But after a few minutes, our lips finally pecked and parted.

What a magnificent feat! Oh great accomplishment! Everest of deeds!

Then we both scuttled down from the tree, dropping like acorns (and just as nutty), red on our faces from the coy looks and “Oohhhhh!”s our friends gave us. Bentley snapped, “Shut up!” and I smiled sheepishly. We hugged goodbye later but we were both too shy again to repeat the deed.

A week later Bentley messaged me on MySpace and said he couldn’t go on with the relationship. He said he had trust issues and was afraid of commitment.

I didn’t cry. The tree kiss wasn’t that great.

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