Words| The First Time and The Last Time

By Fide Kibue

I slide back from them all, breathing slow, taking in the hotel air a mingled with smoke from the hashish pot and marijuana sticks, polluted by the used air from their lungs. I raise my eyes from my phone to observe the guy next to me. He looks lost in some marijuana induced dimension and he is swaying his head to some funny music that serves as the background for our never ending search of an optimum high.

I’d rather be in bed on this particular Friday, snuggled in my heavy duvet and two blankets, the purring of my two kittens lulling me to sleep. But this is one of those things you are forced into with a loaded gun to your head. It has taken me two shots of some vile coloured liquid to come into terms with the fact that I am here to stay and to also pull up the fake smile that is sprawled across my face, to also feel that it’s okay to actually be here.

I used to dream of these things. I wanted to be these people swaying their bodies to music that is known only to their limb coordination, to be those other people outside going crazy on the balcony, making out with random strangers. The series “Blue Mountain State” had prepared me for campus. Then I realized that wild parties made of random strangers bound together by a mutual person who disappears halfway into the night was not all there was to campus and the novelty of it all was gone.

As I make a quick scan of the room, I see him. Bored as I am, watching the unfolding events with a certain countenance that I am sure resembles mine. I look at the time on my phone. There isn’t much of the night left and we are stealing into dawn’s time. Soon it will be light and all I have to show for “last” night is the completion of thirty-eight pages of a course book I have been reading online.

There is a brief introduction by way of staring and soon we are having a very articulate conversation, with laughter at all the right intervals and surprisingly no nodding. This is the first conversation I have had with a person of the opposite sex that does not make me feel like I am being objectified and it is satisfying. Soon we are outside where all the smokers on the balcony have either retreated into the house or passed out at the very corner, huddled together like hobos for warmth.

The night is seeping into day and the flood lights are going off one by one. There is a market below that is coming alive with the sun’s ascension. The people look so tiny from this vantage, making me wonder if God sees us this way when he is seated up there. Like ants, so vulnerable and crushable. We talk about this for a moment and then there is this intense silence and staring afterwards. We kiss.

I’ve heard people talk of intimate moments with strangers. It could be a small laugh at something mutually funny that only the two of you get or the acknowledgement of presence when one of you walks into a room full of people. It could be a word with no fundamental meaning said at the same time. I never really understood the concept. How can you share something of so much meaning with someone you just met? I have trouble achieving it with people I have known my whole life. And yet here it is, a simple lock of lips, eliciting complicated reactions inside me I never imagined were possible.

There is a certain finality in it though. I’ve heard that a kiss is the beginning of something beautiful but this feels like the end of something. Like this happening because there will be no other place or time for it to ever happen again. It feels like this is the first time I hold his hand and the last time I do it. This is the first time I look into his eyes and the last time. This is the first time I run my fingers through his curly hair and it is also the last time. It is a nagging assurance that is gnawing at me but not in the irritating kind of way such things do but in an educative kind of way. Then something else disappointing occurs to me. I will meet others and they will always be lacking something that is important to me as a person. They will always have one and always lack the other. He has obviously set the bar too high because somehow, even though I am meeting him for the first time I know he possess it all.

Then just as it began, it ends. We exchange numbers out of courtesy even though we know that none of us will ever use them. They will be mere decorations in our phonebooks. Perhaps a reminder that we both exist and crossed paths at some point in our lives. We are in silent agreement that starting one word conversations will be forcing things to be. Because some things are not meant to be pursued. Doesn’t the beauty of a mystery disappear with its unravelling?

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