My birthday was coming up. I would be turning 17. I always hated my birthday because no one was ever around to celebrate it. It falls at the end of August and everyone is always taking their last vacation of the summer before school starts. I try to avoid creating expectations for the night but it was always hard not to hope for the birthday of your dreams. I never knew exactly what that was though.
Thankfully Kyle would be in town. Unfortunately my mother had planned my birthday dinner on my birthday, so Kyle and I would be celebrating the night before.
He told me to get dressed up and that he would be picking me up around 5pm to take me to dinner. I wore my denim skirt and a nice shirt and put on a little more make-up than usual. I waited for him, excited to see what he had gotten me. He showed up looking extremely handsome in a blue and yellow plaid button down shirt and slacks. He had been growing his hair out since I had asked him too and the bleach blonde boy was really starting to look like a surfer. His smile stood out the most though. He was so genuinely happy and it made me happy just to be around him.
He pulled a small wrapped gift and a small yellow sunflower from behind his back. He always brought me a small sunflower when he came because they grew on the side of his road. He handed me both gifts and I squealed with excitement.
“Can I open it now?” I asked.
“If you want.” He smiled reassuringly, definitely giving me the go to open away.
I sat down on the couch and slowly began to unwrap his gift.
It was a picture of the two of us that had been taken on my camera at the last camp dance of the summer. It was the counselor’s “formal” dance, basically an excuse for us female counselors to use our homecoming and prom dresses again. In the picture I am wearing a red strapless gown with camp bracelets and my hair curly like usual. Kyle is wearing a blue dress shirt with a yellow tie. He has his arm around me and we both have huge smiles on our faces.
The picture was matted on some scrapbook paper with stickered words like “magic,” “together,” and “first moment” all around. It was perfect. I turned the frame over not thinking really and saw huge letters spelling out “Gina and Kyle” and a small sticker that said, “I love you.” My heart fluttered and I looked up to see Kyle smiling at me. I smiled at him and thanked him nervously for the perfect gift. I was a master at avoidance.
“Where are we going to dinner?” It was too early in the day and too bright to be talking about love already so I brought up a new subject.
“Olive Garden.” He smiled. Yakima doesn’t have much variety as far as food goes and Kyle wasn’t made of money. I was happy with the selection. I loved their breadsticks and salad.
We went to dinner and had a wonderful time. Kyle even let me order some cheesecake for dessert. We laughed and talked over dinner and I realized that this was the first time I had ever been one-on-one with a boy at a restaurant. I had done group dates for dances and Kyle had been to some meals with my family, but this was the first time I had been on my own. I loved it. There were no awkward pauses or uneasy moments. We twisted noodles onto forks while chatting about college and childhood memories.
Kyle had plans for after dinner but wouldn’t tell me what they were. Instead he drove to a park near my home where you can sit on these terraces and see the huge sky before you. He parked and opened the trunk pulling out his guitar. I smiled and blushed astonished that this was actually MY life.
“Sit.” He prompted me to kneel on the grass and he sat down making the guitar comfortable in his arms.
“I have a song for you,” He spread out a few pieces of yellow lined paper. On it was his small quick script.
He strummed the guitar and started singing an original song he had written, just for me.
It was about freezing time. How we always said that we wish we could invent a time machine and just stay in this summer forever, that we could always feel the excitement of learning about each other and falling in love.
There was that word again. That word made my whole body tremble. It made my palms sweaty and my my heart beat fast. I think it’s your body’s fight or flight response kicking in. Do you face love head on knowing that you might get broken or do you run away avoiding any pain that may come?
He kept singing and smiling that knowing smile. He knew me so well. He knew that he was going to have to ease me into the idea of love just like I ease into a hot tub. Dipping my feet in first, acclimating to the burning temperature until I can slowly submerge my body until what was at first scorching is actually relaxing.
The sun set after the song and we just talked enjoying our time together. Then it was time to take me home. I still wanted to watch a movie and so he stayed claiming that I could have whatever I wanted for my birthday. After the movie he said he needed to go home. Home? I didn’t want him to go home yet. I wanted him to stay until it was actually my birthday. I wanted him to give me a kiss right when the clock struck twelve. He claimed he was tired but he let me drag out minutes of kissing into an hour. He let me drag out seconds of pleading him to stay into even more minutes until we were sitting in his Kia at 11:50pm. He had finally resigned to stay until midnight. But he was leaving as soon as he could after that because it was late and he was very very tired.
We kissed. It was 11:55pm.
We talked. It was 11:57pm.
We sat gazing at the stars in the sky. It was 11:58pm
We kissed some more. It was 11:59.
Then he stared at me and I stared at him. I started rambling about how I was going to get a kiss on the first minute of my actual birthday.
12:00am. He kisses me and pulls away resting his forehead against mine.
“I love you.” He quietly states.
“I love you too.” The words slip out of my mouth like I had been saying them my whole life.
Then we kissed again and my whole body was electrified with the excitement of a first love.
He stayed a few more minutes where we discussed how long we had both been wanting to say “I love you” and how I had decided he would have to say it first and how he knew that I wanted him to say it first and how he was waiting for the perfect moment and realized my birthday would be perfect.
And I realized my birthday had turned out exactly how I wanted it.
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