Today Jennifer Castle, author of The Beginning of After, is here on the blog to talk about her first kiss and that definitive “before and after” moment. I so related to this one as I was one who was among the last of my group of friends to have my first kiss. I finally thought I had “arrived”….although Jennifer’s first kiss was much more interesting than mine!
In middle school, my friends and I watched “General Hospital” and scored the kisses, grossed out yet totally captivated. A few years later, most of the girls I knew had gone to first base, or at least claimed to, and us virgin-lips were left to watch the end of “Sixteen Candles” 400 times and simply imagine.
By 11th grade, it still hadn’t happened for me. My never-been-kissed status burned like a scarlet NK on my chest and I was sure it showed. The worst part was the wondering: Why couldn’t I have what everyone else does? Could guys see what I’ve always feared…that there was something kind of just a little bit wrong with me?
That year, my high school did a bi-annual exchange trip with a school outside of Paris. Thirty of us went over for three weeks, and on one of our last nights in France, there was a big farewell party. I hoped, like I always did, that something exciting might happen, so I put on my best something-could-happen outfit: neon turquoise top, black-and-turquoise pinstriped Sassoon jeans, and turquoise legwarmers. I mean, with a rig like that, how could something not?
And, actually, miraculously, something did.
Out of nowhere, one of the French guys — I knew who he was, but had dismissed him as way too hot for me — pulled me off the dance floor. We chatted haltingly in two languages and after a few minutes, a slow song came on and he led me back to the dance floor and…well, let’s just say that I found out quickly why a certain kind of kissing is named after a whole nation of people. When the song was done, he asked if we could go somewhere alone together. In my Day-Glo awesomeness, I ran for my life.
I wish I could spin this into the stuff of swoonable YA novels. But alas…my school group left France two days later and when the French kids came to visit us in New York, I was too consumed with embarrassment/excitement/fear to ever talk to him again. (Alexi, if by some bizarre chance you’re reading this, I’m sorry for being a freak. That could have been a fun few weeks.)
Still, my world had shifted. Of course, the rumors flew and I became known for a while as the Girl Who Hooked Up With A Smokin’ French Dude, and that looked much better on me than turquoise legwarmers. But the real change was this: Before that night, life just seemed like a movie starring everyone I knew — a movie I could only sit back and watch. Before that boy grabbed my hand so unexpectedly, I didn’t know what I had to offer and if anyone would ever in a million years want it.
After, I had my very own proof that random moments of magic do happen in life. That fantasy and fiction can indeed become reality. That my hand was worth taking somewhere. And once I knew that, it all started for me. Anything became possible, simply because I knew it was.
About The Beginning Of After:
Laurel’s world changes instantly when her parents and brother are killed in a terrible car accident. Behind the wheel is the father of her bad-boy neighbor, David Kaufman, whose mother is also killed. Now, Laurel must navigate a new world in which she and her best friend grow apart, boys may or may not be approaching her out of pity, overpowering memories lurk everywhere, and Mr. Kaufman is comatose but still very much alive. Through it all, there is David, who swoops in and out of Laurel’s life and to whom she finds herself attracted against her better judgment. She will forever be connected to him by their mutual loss, a connection that will change them both in unexpected ways.
So guys, now that Jennifer has dished….tell me your first kiss stories!!
Check out Book Labyrinth on August 31 for the next stop on the tour.