Tuesday, May 3, 2016

first love, first kiss

David Wang was my first love. We attended kindergarten at Canadian Academy in Kobe, Japan, which was the K-12 school for the children of foreigners. David was Chinese. I was American. He and I conversed in Japanese because we both spoke English poorly. There was no common language in our kindergarten class, but every child spoke either Japanese or English, so every lesson was taught twice - first in Japanese, then a second time in English.

We found each other on the playground. David was a short, roly-poly kid who did not fare well in the company of other children. They teased him, calling him Fatso, and making fun of how he ran. When I saw the movie Up, I smiled when the character Russell made his first appearance. "David Wang!" I thought. I decided that we would be friends. Thus began a life-long pattern of befriending oddballs and misfits. My stubborn nature has always led me to contrary behavior, typically without a care in the world for how others reacted to my choices. To me, choosing David was less about being kind to an outcast and more about defeating the ugliness of the other children. Befriending David was my way of flipping the bird at the other children. Even at age five, I was a rebel.

David and I invented whole villages, inhabited by the most interesting people. They were usually something mild-mannered, like shopkeepers or street cleaners. But each had a secret persona, capable of extraordinary things. This was 1964-65, when comic books were all the rage. I'm sure we were influenced by them, though I have no specifc memory of looking at any.

We decided at some point that we would marry when we grew up. I remember announcing this to my family at the dinner table. After a pause, my brother (ten years older) said, "You're not going to marry a Chinese boy." I became upset. "Why not?" I asked. Nobody answered. Finally, my mother said, "You can marry anyone you choose." I was satisfied, but still confused. After all, my brother knew everything, or at least I thought so at the time.

My first kiss was not with David, however, at least not that I recall. No, that dubious honor would go to a male cousin who laid one on me while we were hiding in a garage during a game of hide-n-seek. I was nine. He was a little older. I remember being shocked. It was unexpected. Boy/girl thoughts weren't even in my head at that point. So there was no anticipation, no giddy schoolgirl crush and no pining for him afterward. My thoughts were more along the lines of, "Gross. Why the heck did he do THAT?" He probably doesn't even remember it.

That's it. First love and first kiss. I would love to know what became of David Wang ...

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