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Posting for the memory of Paul Eckna, who died on 9/11/01 in the WTC tragedy.

This isn't the story of my first actual kiss. I can't even remember that one. Must not have been that monumental.

No, this is a story of the first kiss that launched my first real relationship. It was October 1990. Football season. Sophomore year. I was co-captain of the JV cheering squad, though by all means, not one of the popular girls often associated with the title. I hadn't yet grown into my lovely Italian nose, and I so desperately wanted to be accepted and loved. Remember those days?

My best friend Jackie's brother Bobby was a year older than us. He invited us to a party after one of the games. He ran with all the cool kids, so we thought we were the bomb. After a couple of beers from the warm keg, we all relaxed and became ourselves. There was this one guy Paul, who I had flirted with on occasion at Jackie's house. He was a cute, huge football player with very warm, smiley eyes. I can't remember how we got on St. Paul's field (did he ask me to go for a walk maybe?) but before I knew it, I was sitting on his varsity jacket close to him under the stars.

He was lying on his side, leaning up on one arm. I remember we talked for a long time, and then he asked if I'd be his girlfriend. I can feel my heart doing flip-flops at the memory of it. Of course I said yes, and he leaned in and kissed me so softly on the lips and we just stayed still like that for what seemed like hours. I remember feeling the October chill on my back, and the warmth of his face on my lips.

It was so lovely. He pulled away and put his hand on my cheek and with a big smile that could melt your heart, he said "good." I turned my gold, heart-shaped ring so the point was pointing towards my heart, telling the world I'm taken. Minutes later, we were tackled by 4 or 5 huge football players, screaming "Way to go, Eck!"

Paul and I lost touch after high school, but I have so many fond memories of our relationship (and some insane ones as well – we didn't wind up together so you can imagine it didn't end pretty). He was a great friend, and I'm so sad that he's not here to reconnect with and joke about those good old days. He was probably the only one who truly knew me during that time.

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