7. Passages/2

For the next few weeks, Staci and I were inseparable. She broke up with Dylan shortly after we’d had our first "date." Dylan, for his part, left town the first week of June to live with a sister and brother-in-law in Wichita Falls, where he took a job at his
brother-in-law's auto shop. Nobody knew if he was coming back to school or not, least of all Staci. I took advantage of his absence and spent my time doing my best to cause her to get over him. We went to movies, ball games, had picnics in the park, went swimming; pretty much spent all our free time with each other.

I had fallen hard for her. I thought everything about her was perfect. Being with her was like being on a drug; being away from her made me almost literally hurt.

She seemed to like me a lot, too. We were both always aware of a certain power differential, and as hard as I tried--as hard as we both tried--the age difference at that critical time-period in our teen lives threw an unpredictable and difficult-to-navigate complication into our relationship. I worked at ignoring it, and tried to take the role of the dominant partner in the relationship, but it was pretty clear to both of us, at least subconsciously: I was the "younger guy" who was almost entrapped. I idolized her and idealized her, found myself unable to look at her rationally and neutrally. I adored her, and was lost in that adoration. Still, the mutual attraction was undeniable; she seemed to want to be with me as much as I wanted to be with her.

Our physical relationship had progressed pretty rapidly. In hindsight, I understand all too well what was going on: you can avoid issues in a relationship if you're spending your time making out.  But at the time I was caught up in my first love, and not remotely interested in serious and sober thinking on the subject. In any case, by the time we'd been "together" two weeks, we were going at it pretty heavy, just about every time we went out. From Staci I learned how to French kiss a girl really well; I learned where to touch, and when, and how; I learned how to be patient and slow; and I began to understand how different, yet equally intense, girls' passions are.

The increasing intensity of our relationship was coinciding with an impending beach trip that our church youth group was taking in mid-June. I'd been thinking about it ever since I'd begun seeing her, and I'd decided that I was going to find a way to get some time away from chaperones on this trip, and take Staci off to a quiet section of beach and make love to her. Thinking about this excited and scared me at the same time. It also caused me to walk around with a chronic hard-on.

Throughout the whole period of my relationship with Staci, Matt was both excited for me and somewhat jealous. We double-dated a few times that month. After one of those, a movie-and-Coke date, Matt was spending the night at my house. He was sitting at my desk and looking through a stack of CDs, talking with me about the evening, when he said, "Man, Phillips, I can't believe you're friggin' makin' out with Staci Hamilton! Since when are you the big stud?"

I leered at him, tugged at my waistband and said, "Hell, Matt, since forever, or do I have to show you again?"

"Big deal, freak," he responded. "Anyway, it's not the size of the equipment that counts, it's all about how you use it...and I know for a fact the only use that big boy's gettin' is from your right hand."

"Shows how much you know," I said, raising an eyebrow, as if I had a revelation for him I hadn't yet shared with him.

I paused and waited for his eyes to get wide with anticipation; then I winked and said, "Sometimes my left hand does the honors."

Matt laughed explosively, which would have been cool, except for the fact that he had a mouthful of Pepsi. My wall got a good spray as it came out Matt's mouth and nose. "Look what you did, asshole!" I yelled...but the sight of it was too funny. Pretty soon I was laughing too.

Matt stood up and pulled the chair away from the desk. I went to the kitchen, got some paper towels, and cleaned the Pepsi off my wall, then looked at him and said, "Dude: I may be spending the first half of the summer with blue balls and jerkin' off, but on this beach trip that's gonna change, I'll tell you that."

"Ooh, he can talk the talk," he quipped. "Let's see you walk the walk. Hell, I'll betcha when it comes down to it, I lose my virginity before you do. Staci's never gonna put out for a punk like you."

"And I suppose Lauren's gonna give it up for you any time soon?" Lauren was Matt's current love interest.

"Tell ya what, Phillips, if you score before I do, I'll do your outside chores for a month."

I stuck my little finger out and Matt hooked his own with mine in the classic "pinky-swear" move. "Dude...you are so on. I'm talking mowing, edging, weeding the beds, and keeping the fuckin' pool clean."

"Never gonna happen, but it's a deal anyway," Matt said confidently. "But we gotta stipulate the other scenario, since that's how it's really gonna play out."

"Yeah, whatever. We'll lay out an imaginary alternate scene if it'll make you happy."

He thought for a minute.  "Okay...this alternate, non-imaginary scene has you doin' the same at my house...but since we don't have a pool, you have to...let's see...okay, you also have to do my laundry for six weeks.  Just my sports stuff, though; I'll make it easy on you."

"Shit, Matt, your mom does all your laundry anyway," I protested.

He said, "So? This ain't about making my load lighter; it's about making you pay."

I shrugged. "Hell, fine by me since it ain't gonna happen. Except I'm not doin' your jocks, not even in this fantasy scenario of yours."

"Yeah, you are," he shot back, grinning, "and if you give me lip, I'm gonna make you wear 'em on your head."

I wrinkled up my nose and said, "Ewwww!"

He laughed. "You know you want it, Phillips...I had you pegged as a jock-sniffer even back when we were in third grade!"

I knew this game. We'd spent years perfecting it. "You didn't even know what a jock was in third grade. Hell, you didn't even have enough down there to put into one until last week!"

He slide-tackled me, dropped me to the carpet, and sat on my chest.

"Say what you want, Andy," he said with an evil grin. "By the end of June, you're gonna be doin' my laundry and sniffin' my jock."

"Yeah, you keep that wishful thinking goin', boy. I'm gonna come home from that trip a man and you'll still be trying to figure out where to put it."

He stood up, extended me a hand, and pulled me up off the floor. "All right, enough of this horseshit...let's just see what happens." We were both smiling big at the thought of losing our respective virginities, and we were both dead-set on it.


The day came and about twenty-five of us, plus eight adult chaperones, headed off for the beach. It was a good retreat, and believe it or not, I actually got something out of the "religious" stuff we did. But I was a typical fourteen-year-old male: I believed in practicing my faith in moderation. My true energies and allegiances were focused on my libido. And I had every intention of taking it the rest of the way with Staci.

One of the gas stations not too far from my house had a condom dispenser in the men's restroom. I'd left the house one afternoon about a week before our trip, telling my mom I was on a distance run to start getting conditioned for soccer season. I ran to the station, went into the restroom, and bought three condoms. I had no idea whether I really needed that many, but I figured buying only one would be asking for trouble, and buying more than three was either too optimistic or too bulky to keep in a wallet.

I brought those three condoms with me on the trip.  I kept one in my wallet and two in my toiletries bag. My roommate on the trip, another new-to-high-school kid like me named Corey, was in the bathroom one morning brushing his teeth as I got out of the shower, and his eyes fell on the condoms in my toiletries kit. He looked at me, looked at the condoms, looked back at me, and said, in a none-too-soft voice, "What the hell are those doing in your stuff? Did...are you...is..."

I put my hand over his mouth and said, "Shhhhhh.....shut the fuck up, dude." There were five of us in the condo, including our adult chaperone, and I didn't want to announce this to the whole group. I whispered, "You know what they're for, and as for your other question, well, yeah...Friday night, on the beach, after everybody's gone to bed. But you didn't see this and you don't know anything."

"Okay, dude. Wow. Okay."

"I mean it, Corey, you can't tell anybody about this or Staci and I are fucked, and then I'll have to come pound your face."

He nodded. "Don't worry about me, dude. Man...Staci Hamilton! How did you do that? And ain't ya scared of Dylan?"

"Fuck Dylan, dude, he's gone," I said, shrugging. "Who knows if he's coming back, and anyway, she dumped him. He's probably out screwin' every 'ho' in Wichita Falls. He's old news."

"But how are y'all gonna get the time away from chaperones and stuff?"

I looked at him, grinned, and said, "I'm glad you asked; you can do me a little favor, Corey...."


I'd arranged to meet Staci just down from the condo's boardwalk at 2 AM our last night there. I trusted her to figure out a way to sneak out like I did. Lights-out was at midnight in our group; by two, everybody in the condos was asleep. If a condo unit had reasonably quiet kids, the chaperone would go to sleep and everyone was more or less on the honor system to stay in. And almost everybody did. But Staci and I had our minds on each other.

I'd gotten an agreement from Corey to cover for me in case a chaperone stuck his head in and found me missing. I had him leave the bathroom light on and the bathroom door shut, and he was to tell the chaperone I was in the bathroom. It was a pretty lame plan, but I figured if that didn't work when I got back I'd tell our chaperone I couldn't sleep and had been sitting in the condo's lobby watching TV for a bit. I'd get into a little hot water for it, but less than if they'd found out what I was really doing. When the beeper went off at 1:50 AM on my wristwatch, I got up and dressed, and shook Corey gently by the shoulder to wake him up. He opened up his eyes and looked at me; I whispered, "I'm outta here, dude. I'll be back in an hour. Watch my back, okay?" He smiled and gave me a "thumbs up," then put his head back on his pillow. I grabbed some stuff, sneaked out the front door, and headed toward the beach.

We probably shouldn't have been on the beach by ourselves at two in the morning. Still, this section of beach was private and was used primarily by people staying at the condo, and at this time of day it was completely deserted.

I'd originally thought it would be cool to have a late swim with her, but I knew enough of the ocean to realize that putting the two of us in such a situation would be dangerous to the point of stupidity. So we'd decided not to come out in swimwear. I went shirtless and in soccer sandals, wearing a pair of white soccer shorts with blue trim and free-balling it underneath that. In the pocket of those shorts were my three condoms.

I had brought along two beach towels, two pillows, and a light comforter for us to lie down on so we'd keep the sand at a minimum. The sea air was warm but breezy. With the sun down and the wind blowing, we could even wrap up in the comforter if we wanted.

As I sat my gear down in the sand, Staci showed up. She had on a pair of khaki shorts and a white cotton top. Her face was a little ruddy from a week of too much sun, but she looked beautiful for all that. Seeing her got me a little nervous and set my dick at full attention. I'm so much in love with her, I thought to myself; and tonight, with any luck, I'll be making love to her.

"Hi," Staci said.

"Did you have any trouble getting out?" I asked.

"Nope. Amy's gonna tell them I couldn't sleep and went down to watch TV if anyone asks."

I winced and said, "Shit, let's hope no one asks, because there'll be hell to pay. That's what Corey's saying too."

She giggled. My heart melted down even further.

"I brought some stuff for us to keep the sand off us and just watch the stars...or whatever," I said nervously.

Staci looked at me and smiled faintly. We hadn't spoken about it, but I think she knew just as well as I did what this little date on the beach was all about. I took her hand and said, "Let's just walk along the beach for a little bit, okay?"

"I'd love that. It's so beautiful out here, Andy. Look at how the moon shines down on the ocean. Isn't that incredible?"

Oh, god, Staci, you're incredible, I wanted to say. But I just looked at her, smiled, and nodded my head.

We walked along the beach, holding hands, making small talk, sometimes not talking at all. After about fifteen minutes, we reversed direction and headed back.

About fifty yards from our original starting-point, I stopped walking and turned to face her. I summoned up my courage and said, "Staci...I think I'm in love with you."

She put her arms around me and pulled me in close to her. I bent down to kiss her. We stood there kissing for several minutes under the moonlight as the waves washed up against the shore over and over.

Our mutual need was intensifying as we kissed. Pretty soon it was impossible to hide my state of arousal. I tried to pull back my hips and move away from her, because I didn't want to seem over-eager, but as I did, she moved her hands to my ass and pulled me in tight against her. I groaned in pain and ecstasy and began grinding gently against her. My breathing became ragged and heavy and hers was getting faster too, as we stood there tongue-kissing and thrusting against each other.

I couldn't take it any longer. I said, "Staci, you're so beautiful and I'm wantin' you so bad. I...I brought some...some protection. I want to make love to you. I know you're not...I mean, you've done this before. But I haven't, and I...I want you to be the one I..."

Before I could stammer it out, she pulled me to her and kissed me deeply one more time...then she slid her hand down the outside of my pants and caressed my aching dick. I inhaled sharply, and she took her hand away and put it in mine, saying, "I'm ready too. It's right this time. I want you to, Andy."

We walked back to the dune where I'd left the towels and pillows and comforter. I spread them out and then stood up, facing her. I looked into her eyes, kissed her one more time, and, hands shaking a little, pulled her top over her head. She unhooked her bra and I slid it off her. We embraced and held each other chest-to-chest. Then she reached down to my waistband and I reached over to hers. I gently unbuttoned and lowered her khakis. She slid her panties down and stood before me naked; then she got down on her knees and slid my soccer shorts down around my ankles. My dick, freed suddenly from its confines, slapped up against my belly, then stood at hard attention. She stood back up; I stepped out of my shorts and we stood before each other naked.

"You're so beautiful," I whispered.

"So are you, Andy," she said.

"Are you sure you want to do this?" I asked.

In answer, she grabbed me around the waist, pulled me close to her and began kissing me. As we kissed, she moved her hands to my ass again and began caressing me and pulling me harder against her.

I was leaking all over her and I was afraid if we didn't stop, I'd finish before we started. I kneeled down with her and eased her onto her back on top of the comforter. I kissed her lips, her neck, her breasts. Then I got up for a minute and grabbed one of the condoms out of my soccer shorts.

I tore open the packaging and unrolled it onto my straining dick. Then I lay down beside her. I took one of her hands, and moved it to my penis. She ran her fingers through my pubes and caressed my balls. Occasionally she let a finger run up and down the length of my cock. Even though it was covered in a layer of latex, I shuddered at the sensation.

We kissed and made out some more.  The silky smoothness of her naked body was overpowering.  My right hand made its way toward her waist and below. I reached my destination and slowly inserted a finger into her. I was on fire with need for her, and a little nervous; I'd never ever done this before.

She was warm and wet, and the sensation made my dick even more impatient. I spent some time stimulating her with my hand, getting familiar with her body as I never had with any other girl before, eliciting moans of pleasure out of her. Finally I kissed her once more, then positioned myself over her, continuing to kiss her gently, while my right hand guided my dick into position. My condom was lubricated, and between that and her own wetness, we were ready. I brought my dick right up to her opening with my hand, and thrust gently with my hips, pushing slightly into her. She winced just a little. I said, "Are you okay?"

"Yeah," she replied, kissing me. "Go ahead." I pushed a little more in and she seemed to open up more easily to take the rest of me. I eased in slowly and carefully until finally I was in all the way.

It was all I could do to hold off an instant orgasm. Never in my most intense wet dreams had I had such a physical sensation. I felt this incredible velvety softness inside her; but it was firm, and it gripped and stroked me. I couldn't tell whether I wanted to cry from the sheer mind-unhinging ecstasy of the sensation, or growl like an animal in heat.

She'd been moaning softly. Now that I was in, she hugged me tightly to her and sighed. "It feels nice, Andy," she said.

I could hardly speak, I was so overpowered by the physical sensations and the tidal wave of emotion that had caught me. "Staci, you feel so good," I said. "I didn't know it would be like this."

I began thrusting slowly in and out. Pretty soon we had a good rhythm going. Gradually, sweet talk was replaced by moans and sighs as the pace picked up.

As I was making love to her, I started worrying about being able to give Staci an orgasm. Do girls get off easily? What should I do? This isn't all just about me, I was thinking; I want to make her feel the same intensity I'm feeling. I thought about where orgasms came from in girls. Although I was a rank beginner in making love, I had a pretty good understanding of what I needed to do.

To make sure I knew what was where, I put my hand down where the action was, and as I was fucking her, I felt her with my finger until I found what I thought was her clit. I stroked it gently, and sure enough, she tightened up and gasped a little. I moved my finger away and decided to try increasing the pressure against her clit with the top side of my penis as I was thrusting. She responded as I'd hoped: she began gasping lightly and lifting her torso up slightly to meet me with each thrust. She grabbed my ass with her hands again and pulled me into her, over and over, as if she were trying to get me deeper into her and harder against her. The pace kept increasing until I felt her tensing up. I didn't have any sexual experience to speak of, but I could tell she was about to get there. Pretty soon I felt her clamp around my dick a little tighter as she cried out in climax. I kept pumping away; the excitement of Staci's orgasm got me closer myself, until, about a minute later, I thrust deep into her and exploded my juice into the condom.

I rolled us onto our sides and we lay there, kissing and caressing, my dick still inside her. Finally, awkwardly, I pulled out. As I was doing that, I felt the condom beginning to slip off, and I quickly grabbed it at the base and clamped down on it and my penis, making sure the condom stayed on until I was safely out of her. Then I pulled it off and tied it in a knot to keep the fluid inside. I looked at it, kind of grossed out, thinking, "What the fuck do I do with it now?" Was there a dignified way to deal with the mechanics of after-sex? If there was, I sure didn't know what it was. She saw my facial expression and giggled. I was embarrassed, but then started laughing at the absurdity of the situation. We lay back and watched the stars, listening to the tide, talking softly, laughing occasionally, whispering about our feelings for each other and caressing each other.

Eventually--much too soon--she turned to me and said, "We better get back before somebody finds out."

"Yeah, I guess so," I sighed. We dressed ourselves; I rolled up the gear I'd brought and wadded the tied-up condom inside my right fist. When we got to the end of the boardwalk closest to the condo, I saw a large trash barrel and I threw the condom into it, rolling my eyes, which set us off laughing again.

We made it back to our condos without anyone the wiser, although Amy was waiting up for Staci and apparently peppered her with questions. To this day I have no idea what she told Amy; I hope that, whatever she said, making love with me was as deep and singular an experience for her as it was for me.


The week at the beach came to a close. We loaded up the vans and made the trip back to Dallas.

Back home, Matt had a report to give and a report to receive. The first thing out of his mouth when we saw each other again was "You better have gotten lucky, Phillips, or you got some jock to sniff."

"Hey, I always deliver," I replied, grinning broadly.

Matt seemed genuinely delighted. "You did? For real? Awesome, bro! Me too!"

I looked at him a little incredulously. "Are you sure you're not tryin' to get out of a month of yard work?"

"Honest, Andy, mission accomplished! So, it looks like a photo finish, dude; we gotta find out who went first. When did you score?"

I looked at him, realizing I'd "scored" at the last possible moment, which meant I'd probably have lost the bet. "Friday night, man...well, actually, early Saturday morning," I sighed.

Matt started laughing. "Me too, bro. Let's just call it a draw and go celebrate."

I gave him a high-five and we "celebrated" over some one-on-one hoops.  Afterwards we sat out on the grass and traded the details of our weekend with each other.  Once again, even in the matter of losing our virginities, we were in lockstep.  As we sat there talking, that thought kept coming back to me.


In an ideal world I'd be able to tell you that things turned out happily ever after for me and Staci. But I was only fourteen, and anyway, I don't know anyone who's ever inhabited an ideal world. I certainly didn't that summer.

Staci and I continued to see each other and talk on the phone for about a week after we got home, but somehow things didn't seem quite the same. I'd thought that our experience on the beach would bring us even closer. But that wasn't happening.

One afternoon while I was shooting baskets, I saw her car pull up. She came over to me. I kissed her and she gave me a perfunctory kiss back, then said, "Can we go up to your room and talk?"

When we got there, she looked at me, then at the floor, and said, "Andy...Dylan's back in town. He's really sorry for the way he treated me and he wants to get back together."

Clueless, I said, "Oh, man, has he been harassing you? Don't worry about it. I'll go pay Dylan a little visit and tell him to shove it and to stay away from you."

She looked at me, eyes radiating discomfort, and stumbled through her next words. "I...I don't know how to say this, but I'm really in love with him. I guess I always have been. And he says he loves me."

The breath left my lungs. I was literally stunned. The room seemed to darken for a second. I must have been speechless for an entire minute while I tried to recover.

Finally, I said, "Shit, Staci, I love you too. And I know you love me. That guy's an asshole. You told me so yourself."

"I do love you," she said. "You're so good to me, and it makes me feel so special to know how you feel about me. But you're two years younger than I am, and...well, I know we've both been feeling kinda weird about that."

I frowned.  I couldn't disagree.

"Anyway," she went on, "Dylan's not as bad as everyone thinks. He's really a sensitive, loving guy. He's just had some tough breaks. He's promised me he's gonna change. And I guess...I guess there's a part of me that never got over him."

"Fuck that, Staci," I said. "He's gonna hurt you again, and you're throwing this away...throwing us away...for someone who's gonna treat you like dirt."

"Andy, there is no 'us,' sweet," she said in response. "You said yourself when we just started seeing each other that we had this summer. And that's what we had. This summer. A beautiful, wonderful summer dream. The beach...I'll remember that forever. But school starts in five weeks. You need to go back to your life and your friends, and I need to go back to mine. I'm always going to love you, Andy, and I want us to be friends. But I'm in love with Dylan, and I think I was meant to be with him."

"Staci," I began hoarsely, looking for a way to make it untrue, a way to put things back like they were, words to say that would change her mind. But by the time I found some words, the reality of the situation had quickly moved into my heart, claimed its hard ground, and refused to vacate. I sighed, and tried to stay strong and steady as I spoke.

"Okay. Shit! I...Okay. There's nothing I can do. God, Staci, I love you and this really hurts. I mean, I had no idea. We talked just last night, and I..."  I took a few deep breaths and struggled to keep from getting too emotional.  "Well, whatever. It doesn't matter, I guess." I looked intently into the eyes of this girl I'd lost myself so badly to. "Listen to me. I think you're gonna get hurt again. And I don't care about the age thing: I'm so much better for you than he is. If you don't want to be with me, that's one thing. But Dylan! Don't do it to yourself."

She stared back at me, silently, and finally replied quietly, "You don't know him, Andy. It'll be fine."

I'd had all that I could handle. I just needed her to leave and let me hurt off by myself, with some dignity still intact. Defeated, I looked at her and said, "Well, if that's the way it is, that's the way it is."

"Let's still be friends, though...please. I don't want you to hate me," she said, a note of desperation in her voice.

"Friends? Staci, I can't do that," I said. "Look; I won't hate you. I couldn't hate you. Jesus, you're the only girl I ever made love to. But being friends with you, that's too much to ask. I'm in love with you. Don't you understand what that would do to me?"

A few tears started falling from her eyes. "I'm so sorry. I never ever wanted to hurt you," she said, crying, as she tried to hug me.

I pulled away and said, "Look, I don't want to be mean, but would you just go, please? You did what you came to do. You need to go now."

She looked at me in misery, and seemed about to say something else. Then she put her hand on my shoulder for a minute, kissed me on the cheek, and turned away without another word.

I watched her walk out the door, and through my window I watched her walk to her car. As she walked I could tell she was crying softly. Why the fuck is she crying, I thought bitterly. After she drove away, I stared blankly out the window for twenty minutes, trying not to think, not to feel.

About half an hour after she left Matt came up the walk, walked into the house, and into my room. He took one look at me, and said "Jesus, Andy. What's wrong?"

I looked at him and said, "She dumped me, Matt. She's going back to Dylan. She just fuckin' drove over here and sucker-punched me."

I must have looked awful, because without another word, Matt came over and put his arms around me. That did it. The dam burst and I cried like a little girl on Matt's shoulder. He rubbed my back and held me and spoke softly, telling me, "It's gonna be all right." I didn't believe him; but I was glad he was there.

Somehow the sheer agony of that hour gradually passed. A day went by, then two, then a week. As the days went on, I got back into the game. I worked hard on shaking off Staci. By the end of July or so, I was pretty much back to normal.

I gave her a wide berth after she broke up with me. I went out of my way to avoid her at youth group meetings and spent my time conspicuously with everyone else; with anyone else. I had to: I'd loved hard, so I hurt hard. But I got better. And I was definitely one broken heart's worth wiser.

Staci's relationship with Dylan turned pretty much in the direction I'd predicted it would. Ultimately he developed a bad drug habit and began getting physically abusive with her; she ended up breaking up with him again. Eventually she graduated and went to college at a northeastern university. We never made it back to the status of "friends," although by the time she'd graduated the hurt had attenuated enough for me to speak cordially to her at church and in school.

I haven't seen Staci in years. I honestly hope she's happy. The memory of the two of us lives deep and strong in my heart. But if the truth be known, I never fully recovered. Do any of us in matters of the heart? Along with the beautiful memories, there's a scar there to this day. I guess that kind of thing often comes with the territory of a person's "first time."

When I think back on those days, though, and allow my heart to feel the joy and pain of my first love, I'm aware of another dynamic coloring the days and the hours. As in all the other ups and downs of previous years of my life, I could always count on one constant, one person--Matt--lifting me up and dusting me off and helping me regain my balance. More and more as the years went by, I began to feel that the two of us were separated halves of one complete person. I don't know what that means, or how to explain it; but I know it's true.

Copyright 2003 by Adam Phillips.  Comments are welcome.  Email me at aaptx28@yahoo.com