One day he had a new poster on his wall. It was the poster every teenage boy who played guitar had on his wall that year-- the one of Jimi Hendrix setting fire to his guitar like some kind of devil man, his long fingers delicately raised. His face snarling.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience CD lay open. I memorized the cover and the next day after school went and bought myself a copy. Days later, I knocked on my best friend's door, after school. Her brother answered.
"She's not home," he said before pausing. "But you can come in if you'd like..."
I stepped inside, nervously.
"I was practicing something on my guitar," he said.
"Know any Jimi Hendrix?" I asked, hopeful.
"Of course! What do you want to hear?"
"What can you play?"
"I can play Hey Joe."
"Yeah, okay. That's my favorite one!"
And so he played it for me. And I watched with my heart in my throat. He was so cool. So old. And so-so totally cute ohmigawd. I swayed to the music as he repeatedly botched his chords.
"Hold on. I know this. I know this..." he said.
I didn't want the song to end. I was happy to watch him figure it out as he went. I would have sat there forever even. He probably figured as much. I hadn't blinked in minutes.
He finished the song and offered me a coke. But when he came back to the couch where I sat waiting, his hands were empty.
Instead, he kind of half-smiled before jumping on top of me and sticking is tongue down my throat. I accepted and reciprocated, no clue what I was doing. And all through my head I kept thinking, Oh my God. This is my first kiss. This is my first kiss. This is it... This is weird. Kissing is slimy... I'm being kissed!
What's crazy is that I still remember how he tasted. The slimy feel of his tongue and how after a few minutes I got the hang of it. Of kissing, which was so much messier than I thought it would be. And even perhaps more clearly, I remember how I apologized for having no boobs when he tried to feel me up and how he said "it's okay, Becca. I don't care" and how I though that was the sweetest thing anyone had ever said to me.
I also remember the date: November 9th, 1993. I was twelve years old.
That week we made out every day after school, but he refused to let me call him my boyfriend. He wanted nothing to do with my at school either, once going so far as to push me in front of his friends.
I was crushed. Even more crushed when I realized I had to call off our make out sessions. It wasn't fair the way he was treating me the way he was at school and I knew it. But I sooooo didn't want it to end. I wanted to be next to him so bad it hurt! Even if it meant him ignoring me in front of his friends.
I cried myself to sleep for days, weeks... maybe even years. I played Hey Joe on repeat, occasionally, camping out in the bushes outside his garage, listening as he mastered a song that felt like ours.
"Where you goi'in with my heart in your hand..?" I wrote in a poem I slaved over for weeks after our make-out gone bad. I put it on his pillow and prayed he would come to his senses. Or at the very least, write me back. He never did. Instead he passed around the poem and everyone made fun of me.
It took me a good decade before I finally learned the hazards of giving the boys who broke me love-letters. And even now, hearing Hey Joe, I get this pang in my stomach. The same pang I felt at twelve-years-old, the first time I'd ever felt that kind of love. The first time I ever had a song to remind me of how pathetic I thought I was. And even now, listening to the song, there's a teenage girl inside me, still, who wonders if maybe she was right.
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Oh the Joys
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