It happens on one of our beach walks. The sky is bright blue with a thin wisp of clouds, or maybe it's a high fog. The cresting waves rise slowly and crash dramatically, spurred forward by the storm that will arrive later today. Our dogs explore the driftwood and seaweed debris in wild circles, discovering, then covering, the scent of every other dog that's preceded them this morning.
We talk about the usual things, my redheaded friend and I. Work. Dogs. My kids. Her last date. For a mile and a half and close to an hour, we walk and talk as we have countless times before.
We reach our turn-around spot where the river, swollen by a week of rain, tries to force its way into the Pacific through the crushing surf. Four pelicans who have apparently delayed their journey south a few more days mingle with the crowd of countless seagulls at the river's edge. We stop and sit on the sand against a large curly redwood log that's found its way downriver, forever lodging itself here in the sands as a convenient bench for dogwalkers, beachcombers, and lovers.
We sit quietly with our backs against the ancient log. The dogs, oblivious to us, continue their noses-to-the-sand search for recent canine visitors. Far off down the beach, two silhouettes tell us we're not entirely alone, but we know this stretch of beach is pretty much ours this mid-week mid-morning. The cool breeze and the warm sun relax me and I feel like I could close my eyes and doze off easily.
Have you ever kissed another woman?
Dina's question surprises me, jarring my resting mind back to the now.
Yes. But only once. And I was really drunk.
It was nothing. Have you?
No. At least nothing more than the usual peck on the cheek between friends.
We're silent for a few drawn-out moments.
That's an out of the blue kind of question, I say.
I just wondered. So who was it?
I'm embarrassed to tell her the story, though I'm not sure if it's because I have to admit I was so hopelessly drunk, or if it's because kissing another girl is not something normal women do.
She was a friend and a coworker. Her name was Tracy, and God, Dina, this was years ago.
Before you were married?
No. Actually, Jeff was there when it happened. It was a New Year's Eve party. And everyone was pretty wasted.
Wasted enough to kiss another girl?
Oh God. OK. Here's what happened. Midnight came and Jeff and I kissed as you're supposed to do at midnight on New Years. Tracy and her husband kissed too. Then Tracy presented herself like she expected Jeff to kiss her. He got inexplicably shy, and looked at me for what to do. Tracy said, Just kiss me already. When he hesitated again, she said, OK then I'll kiss your wife.
And that's it?
Sort of. But she didn't just give me a friendly kiss on the cheek or the lips. She locked on to me, and kissed me hard. Tongue and everything.
I told you, we were pretty drunk. She was playing it up, I know, but she planted one on me, and before I knew it, I was pressed against the wall with her tongue inside my mouth and down my throat. And I let her do it. I even let my tongue go into her mouth too. It only lasted a few seconds. And that's all there is to the story. Really.
And then we were quiet again for a few moments. An almost awkwardly long couple of moments. I try to break the strange silence between us.
You think I'm weird now, don't you?
Dina looks at me. Her blue eyes glossy in the reflection of the bright morning sun, the same color as the sky. And she just looks at me. The slightest hint of a nervous smile creases the corners of her mouth.
Together we lean in toward each other. Her eyes close first as her face comes nearer, and I close mine too. Our lips find each other's easily. One kiss. One touch of our lips across each other. Something in my stomach begins to dance. No, hundreds of little somethings begin jumping up and down and all around in my stomach. My heart is beating so hard I can almost feel it bouncing under my skin.
Dina's hand reaches behind my neck and pulls me in. Her lips press into mine. It feels different than any other kiss I've known. Her lips are fuller and softer than any man. Spongy almost. Fleshier.
I feel her mouth start to open, slowly and tentatively. My lips open, following hers and I feel her breath begin to mix with mine as the space between us shrinks. Together, our tongues reach out and their tips touch. Two soft moans come from both of us at the same moment.
We pull apart suddenly and begin to giggle. Her eyes are dancing, the corners crinkling upwards as her smile expands. They close once more as the hand on the back of my neck beckons me in again.
This time, our mouths open without hesitation. Our tongues begin to play together, first at just the opening where our lips brush against each other, then pressing closer, we delve ever deeper, taking turns tonguing each other's cheeks and teeth and lips.
This is so exciting. So very different. Her cheeks rub against mine. They're so soft. No angles or edges. No beard. No rough stubble. Just soft, warm, pliable skin.
We break from our liplock and Dina kisses my face, my cheeks, my chin, and down my neck. I let her, leaning back slightly, as my arms wrap around her and hold her close. She returns to my waiting mouth and once again we plunge into a deep and frenzied kiss.
We're necking like teenagers, I realize, in a first wild and formless make out session. I recognize the pubescent excitement of lust and exploration and daring from first kisses of more than two decades past. We discover each other's faces and mouths, wordlessly anticipating where each will go with their lips and tongue.
The hand that holds my neck and keeps me in place, slides ever so slowly down the front of my jacket. It stops and rests atop my breast. What can I do but kiss her more deeply at that moment, giving her my silent permission to squeeze me and fondle me, which she does, eagerly, moving back and forth between my two small mounds, ensuring each of them receive equal time.
Tentatively, my hands move around her waist. I discover a gap between her jeans and sweatshirt where soft, cool skin opens to the ocean breeze. Slowly, my fingers move into this opening, under her sweatshirt, until my hand completely disappears under my friend's clothes.
Dina moans softly. The sound vibrates her lips against mine. Her fingers discover the stiff tips of my breasts and she pinches, gently, sending a shudder from my chest to my toes. My hands explore upward, inside her top. I cup her left breast tucked tightly into a thin, gauzy and lacy bra, and squeeze it. She is soft. Fleshy. Firm. Full. Lifting upward, I feel its weight. My hand slides into the valley between her breasts. I feel her heart racing. My fingers expand, stretching between the twin mounds. My palm presses firmly against her breastbone.
Our long kiss breaks.
I can feel your heart beating, I whisper.
Yes. Can you feel mine?
Never taking her eyes of mine, Dina tugs my tee shirt out of my jeans and reaches under my shirt, placing her hands on my bare skin in exactly the same spot where I'm touching her.
God. It's racing so fast.
This is kind of a weird way to spend the morning, isn't it?
But I like it.
A dog barks in the not so far away distance. Our eyes move, but not our hands. Her puppy has discovered that the two distant silhouettes are now distinguishable people only a hundred yards or so away and she's off to introduce herself.
Dina groans. Don't move. I'll be right back.
She lifts herself off the sand and jogs off to rescue the beachcombers from her dog's friendliness.
Our fellow walkers unfortunately linger nearby at the river's edge, and the ticking clock of our real lives finally force us into the long walk back to the car. We don't say much, and only hint at what we just shared in the shadow of the beached redwood. For a few moments, Dina's freckled fingers find mine and we walk hand in hand down the beach, until they furtively fall away from each other when the next pair of beachcombers approach us.