Letter to my 17-year-old self, dropping off a boy at a bowling alley after prom worrying about my first kiss

Unlock the door and bid farewell. Don’t lean in. 

Start your car and look straight ahead. 

 

More chances will come. 

This kiss hasn’t eluded you for any fault other 

 

than your shyness— 

not inherently a personality flaw but a hindrance 

 

in sharing 80 million bacteria with another human being,

locking lips, preferably not eyes, and inhaling 

 

stale carbon dioxide and the remnants 

of a sunny side up egg with peanut butter toast. 

 

Kisses wait for you in college like 

dirty socks at the foot of your bed: 

 

numerous and hidden in dark spaces. 

No need to rush your first. 

 

It wasn’t good anyways. What you think will be lips, more lips, 

slight tongue. Will be, I’m sorry, all tongue. And

 

your second kiss (in the front seat of a tan Ford Explorer) will make you think 

that you don’t even like kissing.

 

But a binge-drank Jack and Coke in your first week of college

and a boy who turned out to be a good kisser and a good friend

 

will grab you by the neckline of your shirt 

and renew your love for the artform.  

 

Three successful New Year’s Eve’s later, you be will enamored, 

a walking liability for mouth herpes. 

 

But like the brightness adjustment on your phone, 

these kisses will stick with you in varying degrees.




You cannot predict them all because, suddenly, your drink 

sloshes from your hand, and she’s three inches from your face.  

 

Others, stolen—you will never be able 

to get the decomposing taste from your mouth.  

 

And those who understand you 

taste like green tea and healing.

 

But enjoy, for your moment in the car with a boy who is 

just your prom date and nothing more, your naivety of kissing,

 

your fright at the idea of leaning into vulnerability. 

You’ll get plenty of practice. But not now. Drive to your friend’s house, 

 

take the bobby pins out of your hair,

and wait another half a year. 

 

By Anna Scott

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