Much of the action in my novel Crossing the Bridge stems from a single, monumental kiss. This is no normal kiss (how sad would it be if an essential moment in my novel was a “normal” kiss?). It’s a spontaneous, surreptitious one that has profound meaning for Hugh, the protagonist, but must never be repeated. This kiss literally changes his life – and while the kiss is revelatory, the changes are unfortunate, at least for a very long time.
I know from experience that a single kiss can have this kind of impact. Happily, my own path to this discovery was much less fraught than Hugh’s. I was walking on a Manhattan street with a woman (let’s call her Anne) who had, over the past couple of years, become my very best friend. We shared a fascination with books, music, food, and coffee, she regularly made me laugh, and she was one of the few people I’d ever met who could get me to open up about the things that were really important to me. She was also beautiful and I was very definitely attracted to her. Still, I had never pursued a romantic relationship with her. When we’d become friends, I was married, so romance wasn’t a consideration. My marriage ended about a year later, but by that point, Anne and I were such good friends, and I so completely needed a good friend, that I wasn’t willing to risk what we already had.
This night, though, as I walked her back to her apartment, something felt different. We’d been to a Mexican restaurant we frequented, and I could have attributed this feeling to the Margaritas, but I’d only had one and the restaurant used criminally little tequila in their drinks. In all likelihood, it had something to do with the conversation we’d had during our enchiladas. She told me some new things about her family that night and that got me talking about some long-un-discussed memories, and it just seemed as though we’d gotten to know each other at another level. As we walked down her block, I thought about how I’d feel if Anne got a serious boyfriend. She’d dated a number of men since we’d been friends, but hadn’t stuck with any of them for very long. The notion that she might fall in love with someone – and mind you this was all in my head; she hadn’t mentioned a guy in months – devastated me. By the time we got to the door of her building, I was filled with an entirely fabricated sense of loss.
So when we moved to hug goodbye as we always did, I kissed her instead. Remarkably, she didn’t seem surprised by this in any way. Even more remarkably, the kiss exceeded any anticipation I had for the kiss. It was eternal and electrifying at the same time. In the days and weeks that followed, we came to realize that any fears we had about romance screwing up our friendship were unfounded. The depth of our friendship was an indicator of how much we were meant to be together, not a barrier. Anne and I got married a year and a half later and we’ve been together ever since.
The memory of that kiss remains one of the strongest memories I have. It was then that I realized that a single kiss can change your life.
Michael Baron is The Story Plant’s Author of the Month. This means we are offering sensational deals on all of his works. You can learn more at our website.