YMCA Bike Trip, Cape Cod and the Islands
There were a bunch of us in the kitchen. The people I’d come with were playing some weird hypnosis game on the grass outside after which there was talk about saying Bloody Mary five times fast into a pitch black bathroom mirror.
By the kitchen stairs, it was me, this girl Kirsten from another group, and an intense guy sitting with his head in his hands whose name turned out to be Ben. Me and Kirsten had this crazy thing where it felt like we knew each other. She had big lips that made a giant, pretty smile, and long feathered hair. We kept trying to pinpoint from where we might know each other, but we didn’t know any of the same people; we weren’t even from the same state. That didn’t stop us trying to figure it out though, and Kirsten suggested we may have met in a past life. That was the one option that seemed possible, so we hashed out some of the variables.
The counselors were all sitting in the front room of the hostel. It was like some camp counselor bitch fest where the counselors from all the different groups that landed at this hostel got a chance to compare road warrior stories.
It was the summer after freshmen year. I’d been riding around on my old ten-speed with a bunch of other kids from the south shore of Massachusetts, and as usual, I was the designated weirdo of the group. We’d ridden the Cape, Martha’s Vineyard, and now Nantucket. I had a set of panniers that had been my dad’s when he trekked Europe with my mom in the early 70’s, and a handle bar pouch that was emblazoned with a New Kids of the Block logo. I’d been mortified by the bag, which I hadn’t picked out. I was in no way a fan. I got a canvas patch and drew bicycles all over it, then glued it on the bag. It kept threatening to peel off, and I was annoyed by it the whole trip.
My heart was pounding every time Ben looked up at me. We could hear the commotion from the front room, we both had an aversion to the other kids we were on our respective treks with, and he asked me if I wanted to go for a walk.
We took off out the back door and headed for the foggy Nantucket beach.
We talked, we sat in the wet sand, we peeked through the fog at glimmering starlight. Then we kissed. Our wind breakers rustled. We kissed forever, the ocean pulling nearer to us.
Flashlights and angry voices broke through the foggy darkness as an ungodly number of counselors descended on the beach at once. We were caught. They demanded we come back, threatened to call our parents, which I bet would have been worse for them than for us. A bunch of college kids, drunk on beer, suddenly worried that their little charges had run off to screw on the beach.
We shared a look. We communicated without speaking. We held hands as we walked back to the hostel.
It was the perfect first kiss.