Carrie was the first girl I was ever ‘in love with,’ I think. We briefly dated in the eighth grade. I never kissed her. At some point she had sex with her ex-boyfriend. She asked Karen Hawkins to break up with me for her. She said she felt guilty. A few weeks later I was lying on our friend Jamie’s floor and Carrie spit in my mouth. I felt a little disgusted but I didn’t know what else to do so I swallowed it. Jamie’s dad was yelling at a football game on the TV.
I met Erica by a large tire in the woods by the elementary school I’d attended. She was skinny and had fake eyelashes that were too big and were covered with clumps of black, powdery mascara. My friend Josh introduced us. I think I was in the seventh or eighth grade. There was an abandoned house near Josh’s house. Erica led me in through a window. She was holding my hand. I felt terrified, I think. I’m not sure what I felt. She led me up some stairs to an empty room. Josh and another girl were in another room downstairs having sex I think. I told Erica I had to go home and left through the window.
Joanna lived in my neighborhood. She was a year younger than me, I think. I was in the eighth grade. We were sitting on her back porch one night. Her head was in my lap. She pulled up her shirt and asked me to graze my fingers along her stomach. We were both stoned, I think. I kept daringly coming close to her pants waist. She told me I could touch her vagina if I wanted. I unbutton her pants and tried to graze my fingers along her crotch, under her panties. “You’re doing it wrong,” she said.
Brooke was in my eleventh grade ‘yearbook’ class. I had never cracked my knuckles before. Once every class period she would motion for me to give her my hands. She would crack them for me and it would really hurt because I had never done it before. I would overdramatize the pain, but I always really looked forward to our hands touching. Once my friend Aaron went on a date with a girl he didn’t really want to go out with and Brooke and I fake double dated to make him feel better or something. Brooke would always ask me for a second date. I think I felt too scared. Later, in the twelfth grade, I called her on the phone to ask her to senior prom. Someone beeped in on call-waiting and asked her first. She called Aaron and asked him to call me to let me know.
Lauren was the first girl I ever kissed. We went bowling and then to the Waffle House to eat. Her mom made us promise to unbuckle our seatbelts and roll down all the windows in my car when we drove over the bridge so we could easily get out if the car flew off the bridge and into the water. Lauren was wearing an enormous, yellow, puffy coat and I had my arm around her on the ride home. The coat made it feel like I was holding an extremely obese person. I kept laughing sort of quietly. She leaned over and ‘open-mouth kissed’ me in her driveway. A few days later we watched “Summer of Sam” and made out. My friends all agreed it was strange to see me in a romantic/sexual situation. I was vocally morally opposed to making out during movies but I had already seen “Summer of Sam” twice before.
I lost my virginity to Rachel when I was almost 20-years-old. She was the second girl I ever kissed. I didn’t have any friends and she consistently enabled my depression and feelings of alienation so we moved to Oregon together. I didn’t want to be with her anymore, but I’d never broken up with a girl so I just moved back to Arkansas. But she came too. I made friends and got invited to parties for the first time in my life and I avoided her whenever I could. I kissed another girl at a party and we switched shirts in the bathroom and I remember Rachel saying “is that Sarah’s shirt?” and I momentarily understood just what it meant to be around the cool people, what you had to sacrifice, or, really what you forced others, who liked you long before any group of people had ever considered you cool, or even considered you at all, to sacrifice. I continued seeing Sarah and eventually, finally, used the guilt to break up with Rachel.
-Photos and text by Michael Inscoe