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I was eighteen years old the first time a man kissed me. The first time a man held me in his arms I shook uncontrollably, my entire body collapsing in upon itself. He held me closer, he comforted me, he ran his fingers through my hair. I was eighteen and I had convinced myself I would never be held.
Not in the way I ached for but could never ever admit. A couple months earlier there had been some fumbling with a stranger in his car. He'd picked me up walking home from school - he somehow knew my name. He was the cousin of one of my classmates, or so he said.
He asked for my phone number and a few days later he picked me up. We drove out to a field.
I thought I might be murdered, so I wrote a letter to my mother and hid it inside of my wallet, apologizing for being murdered.
He didn't murder me. We sat in the field and he played some dirty rap song about blowjobs and then pushed my face into his lap. I saw him a couple times after that. He stole some shirts from me and I never saw him again. I figured that was what I had.
It was being murdered in a field, or it was AIDS. Hell-bound, ticket for one. The idea of a man holding me, telling me it was going to be okay - that was so far beyond what I imagined could be possible it was straight up science-fiction.
It would never, not ever, be okay. And then a few months later I met a man. He was seven years older than me. My best friend and I were at the mall and this guy worked there and he seemed impossibly chic. He had jet-black hair I'd later find out it was dyed and his real hair looked very much like Armie Hammer's hair and bright blue eyes and he smiled at me this great big smile.
A smile that wasn't like other ordinary smiles.
A conversation inside of a smile. He wanted to hang out. Everything about those days, looking back, it burns like looking at the sun. I can feel it on the back of my neck, the warmth of it, right now, here sitting at my desk.Every high school student has to go through the tough process of filling out college applications.
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Time loses meaning at this point - it folds out and in, minutes become days become months. Some time later - later that day, or weeks later - he and I were watching a movie on the floor of the living-room of the enormous house where he rented a room.