A first kiss is a cliché. Truth or dare games and red cups. It has to be you, because no one else in the room twists my organs as deliciously as you do. I lean in, tentative, the room falls silent. It only takes a split second, a soft brush on the canvas of my lips, and everyone groans. It isn’t long enough, passionate enough. It doesn’t stir their imaginations enough. And from a cave in my belly, a little voice agrees.
A first love is a rule. A constant equation. It was meant to happen, so it did. I fall in love after you already have, and spend many months gazing at you from the mouth of the well, curious as to why you’d bring me snacks, and buy me food and kiss me like you had something to prove. By the time I eventually fall, the love feels awkward, like wearing a birthday gift months after you’ve outgrown it. We go our separate ways and I cry like an idiot for days.
A second love is an augury. A pregnant thing that births many poems and stories and feelings flung at each other like frisbees. It’s the first time love feels like a dance, like two people trying to get the steps of a waltz right, even though we step on each other’s feet one too many times till they are sore and our toes bleed and it becomes too painful to hold on. If we fall apart, it’s only because there’s nothing else to hold onto. It’s not a choice we make, and our dream selves know this, because they haunt each other for years.
A first kiss of a second love is an indie film. Two bodies in casual clothing, bonding over a movie that melts into liquid when they reach out to each other. It feels like heaven, like Cough Syrup by Young the Giant. It tastes like putting the last piece of a puzzle in place and seeing the full picture. Our hands conduct the orchestra, and our mouths move in sync and somewhere in the Universe, the stars clink their glasses, a toast in our honour.
A third love is a test. It’s learning how to sieve beans, picking the grains from the chaff. It’s a lost earring at the bottom of a drawer. A treasure hunt with dead ends. A third love watches me wear different outfits and tell different lies to men that glow in my presence. He shakes his head with a knowing smile. I know this because Lagos is a very small city and I see him sometimes, in restaurants and parties and the sweltering heat of 4pm traffic — holographic glimpses that disappear when I look again.
I try not to be too exacting with my desires because the Universe is like me, she loves creative agency. But I hope he tastes like that moment between sober and wine-drunk when the world rises and falls like waves on a beach, or the sweet spot of a mango after all the flesh has been ripped clean.