I know why people make such a big deal out of the first time. It’s the only thing you can never do over.
Like — your favorite food never tastes as good as the first time you had it! And, that joke is never going to be funnier than the first time you told it. True story.
Take, for example, my sexual debut. You might even call it, when I lost my virginity!
Afterwards, we walked to the “Gourmet” Deli on 7th Avenue between 26th & 27th and I had my very first real New York half-and-half cookie. The kind that’s as big as your face, and comes wrapped in Saran wrap. I can remember the squish of that tangy, yellow sponge cookie as I pressed it against the roof of my mouth with my tongue. No cookie has ever tasted quite the same. I remember feeling different, afterwards. “Nothing will ever be the same,” I thought, “Now that I’ve had a real New York cookie.”
Think of all the banal and glorious “firsts” you get to relive every single day. When your favorite pop song comes on in the waiting room, WHA-BAM! It throws you back to hearing it for the first time in the shoe store on North 7th Street — next door to 16 Handles? — after getting drunk on Cafe Colette’s surprisingly strong Bloody Marys. And in the vodka haze, I goaded my boyfriend into Shazam-ing it, and I downloaded it from iTunes while he debated over casual wingtips.
Every time I hear it I can almost smell the leather and rubber soles, and feel the tipsy warmth spread through my belly. “OH YEAH! It’s my shoe store song! Remember?”
So here’s where I lose my biscuits.
Everyone always says that the key to living a happy life full of excitement and adventure is to live every day as if it’s your last.
Ex-squeeze me… your last?
“Lasts” are the worst. It doesn’t matter how dramatic the last, either. Whether it’s the last time I buried my face in the fur of my sheltie dog before he passed away, or the last day I worked out of the old studio room at work. Lasts make me feel like I’m a Halloween pumpkin: like all my guts are scooped out and I’m slowly decaying on a cold front stoop.
Knowing that something is my last doesn’t inspire me to enjoy it to the fullest, oh no. It inspires me to CRUMBLE EMOTIONALLY. “Take one last look around the Playa before we leave Burning Man for the year!” “Give Grandma one last hug before getting in the car!”
Am I enjoying these “last” moments? NO! I’m snot-faced sobbing into my poor Grandma’s sweater collar, shedding boogers and runny mascara into her lovely pastel sweater shoulder. Rude!
Therefore, if I were to live every day as if it was my last, I’d be slumping around with a handkerchief permanently hanging off my nose. “What if I were to drop and break my favorite coffee mug? This would be my last cup of coffee in this mug!” Painful nostalgia would overpower me, I’d be unable to cope.
I propose, instead, living each day as if it was your first.
When I think about living each day like it’s my first, I think about The Little Mermaid. You know I’ve always wanted to be like Ariel, you know. Boob-wise.
But there’s also something amazing about the way she experiences everything for the first time: like, being on land! Having legs! How she preens & poses in that torn sail, because it’s her first outfit! And who can forget the moment she sees a fork in the wild for the first time? Delight!
The first time is the one thing you can never have again. I mean, obviously. The next time won’t be the first time. Lasts? You can have a “last” again. You could mourn a “last” and then find yourself in the same situation and it will be horrible all over again, i.e. “This is the last time I’ll let him break my heart!” Mmm-hmm.
But a first? That’s truly impossible to recapture. I’m thinking about, say, a first date. Or a first kiss!
The thing about a first kiss is this: it’s not perfect. It’s never going to be perfect. A first kiss is always a little bit…weird. You don’t know which direction to tilt your head so you kind of do a neck-jag, then one of you takes the plunge and goes in for the kill, pushing the other one’s neck back slightly, then CONTACT!
So much to process! Warmth. Wetness. Taste! Tongue? It’s weird!
And if you’re lucky, you’ll get a second kiss, a chance to prove that yes, you actually know how to kiss with your mouth like a grown-up, and that whole “first kiss” thing was just a practice, to figure out how the second one should go. And the second kiss will come easier and there will be less nerves attached, but is it as special? It is as memorable?
It’s pretty much the same as the third, the fourth, and maybe the 36th or the 567th. Like it or not, you remember the first kiss. Where you impulsively grabbed your unsuspecting kiss-ee by the neck and realized too late the height difference, oops. You remember the first one, with all its buildup, and electricity, and yes, a regrettable hint of drool.
Firsts in life are often like a first kiss: it’s not how you expect it, but at least it’s memorable. Maybe someday, it’ll even make for a funny story.
But for me, I’d rather try to live each day not like my last, but like my first. With a regrettable hint of drool. And life? Bésame. Bésame mucho.
Photo credit: “Half Moon Tray”, howeieat.com