One is the first, and therefore, automatically, it's the most exciting.
1. My first kiss. Mine was while sitting on a floor of a Bakersfield family room. I'd travelled from the coast by Greyhound (I was sixteen! What was my mother thinking?) to visit a young man of whom I'd become enamored while, yes, at Bible camp (um, maybe that's what my mother was thinking). I'd just turned sixteen, and I was terrified I'd remain Sweet Sixteen and Never Been Kissed until I was seventeen, with no way to go back in time to fix it, a perpetual John Hughes joke. I can't remember the boy's name (isn't that awful?) but he was 6'6" and very blond. I had to crane my neck when I imagined kissing him. That night, we sat on the floor across from each other (probably because we'd thought we be able to reach each other's lips), and I remember scooting closer and closer, until our mouths finally met. And I thought, Wow. Is this all there is?
2. My first boombox. We lived overseas on the tiny island of Saipan (random fact: I'm one of three Pens who've been there!) when I was a teenager, and I wanted one thing more than anything else in my life--a boombox so I could play the bootleg tapes we bought at the Chinese store in Garapan. I had a whole collection: Tears for Fears, Madonna, A-ha! But I didn't have anything to play them on except my best friend Tammy's boombox, and I dreamed of the time I could have my very own. After I saved up the money and ordered one from the mainland, I drew a picture of the exact boombox I'd ordered to scale and set the drawing next to my bed to pass the two months I waited for it to arrive. The songs I imagined it playing were better than any of the actual songs I ended up using it for.
3. My first apartment. It was tiny, barely 300 square feet, $350 a month. I had one fire, many gas leaks, marching tarantulas, and creeping mold, but I loved that place. Everything in the fridge was mine. It was built hanging off the back of a garage, completely illegal, and the teeny bedroom was on stilts, but I loved the forest of eucalyptus that grew on all three side of the room. I felt as if I lived in a tree house. But I outgrew it, even though I didn't want to, and moved to a larger place in a better location. Le sigh.
4. My first book. That was the best. Nothing took away from it. Nothing detracted from seeing that ARC for the first time. This was one of the best moments of my life.
Firsts are great. But I will propose this: after one, I quite like two and three. And four and five and eleven and 127 and 1252. They aren't like the first one. The other night I came home from work to find my third book's early copies had arrived. I didn't wait for Lala to get home, I just let the dogs out, fed the cats, and opened the package. Then I set a copy on the dining room table for her to see when she got home.
It was not as exciting as the first one. But the joy of accomplishment (it isn't a fluke!) might be even deeper.
I've gotten better at kissing, too.