Dear Joshua – You Were Almost My First


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Dear *Joshua,

Remember our “almost first kiss?

Well, we were almost each other’s firsts too.

Spring break. Grade eleven. Your house. Your bedroom. Come on, we’re all adults.

We were laying on your bed, and you asked, “Do you ever think about what our first time will be like?”

“Yeah,” I said. “But, it’s more the before part.”

“Like, foreplay.”

“Like, atmosphere,” I said, lightly kicking you.

“And what does Tessa want?” you asked.

“I want to start with Chinese food.”

“Oh, good. We’re eating first.”

I poked your muscular chest. “And candles everywhere. With love songs playing in the background.”

“So, food, fire and cheesy ballads,” you said. “Got it.”

A couple months later, you mentioned your parents were going away. When one’s parents are “going away,” it’s to visit Aunt Ruth in Montreal. Or for a shopping excursion in Minneapolis.

I should’ve asked for clarification.

“Want to come over that night?” you said.

“Sure,” thinking we’d rent a video or go to the movies.

When we arrived at your house, I stepped into an inferno. Candles were on the kitchen counters and table. I wondered how your house didn’t sizzle to the ground.

One of our songs echoed from your bedroom. And I saw a bag of Chinese food on the counter. You recreated part of my fantasy. I tried to push out of my mind what I thought you thought was going to happen that night. For all I knew, we were eating then heading out to meet friends.

I sat on your lap as we ate in darkened silence with flickering candles. But I felt rushed. Five minutes later, you resealed the Styrofoam containers, threw them into the fridge, and blew out the candles.

Then you led me to your bedroom – also aglow with candles. Kids, never leave candles unattended.


Immediately, you went to your dresser drawer, and you withdrew a three-pack of condoms. At that point, the faint hope of renting a movie or going to see Untamed Heart dissipated.

This was the night. The “Chinese food-candles-music-possibly satin sheets on the bed” night. But I wasn’t mentally or physically prepared. Sure, we hadn’t broken up in six months. A record, considering our off and on relationship since grade seven. And I was seventeen. Not an unreasonable age to lose your virginity. But did I want to that night? With you?

You held me close. And I thought you’d revile in the moment. Enjoy the last of our purity. I imagined you’d tenderly remove my clothing while I unbuttoned your silk shirt (it was the 90s), and once our garments fell to the floor, you’d sweep me off my feet and carry me to bed. Just like on Days of Our Lives.

In reality, you ripped your clothes off like a savage beast. Then my clothes went “poof” within ten seconds.

You pulled down the comforter to reveal satin sheets.

Before I could say anything, I was on top of them. You were on top of me. And I realized, “Holy crap. I don’t think I want this.” 

You sensed my discomfort. “Tess, are you okay? You’re pale.”

“I’m fine.”

“Okay,” you said, and you dragged your lips along my neck.


You sighed in frustration. “Yeah?”

“Can we take this slow?”

“Sure, we have time.” Um … what? “Roll over. I’ll massage your back.”

Your fingers danced along my spine, and my fears and worries subsided. I closed my eyes. Maybe I was ready. Maybe we loved each other enough. Maybe I was just nervous. Nervous is normal.

My eyes opened. “What’s that noise?”

The jingle of keys. The sound of the house door. And your face went pale.

“F**k,” you said, leaping from the bed. “They’re back already!”

I was astonished at the speed you redressed. But terror’s a motivator.

“What do you mean ‘already’?” as I slid from the sheets. “You said they went away!”

“They did,” you said, jumping into your jeans. “They were visiting the Carsons. They weren’t supposed to be home for another hour. Get dressed!”

“An hour?”

“Just … get dressed!” you said, securing your belt. “And just act normal,” leaving me to struggle with my button fly jeans.

I heard you telling your parents I’d fallen asleep. But their scrunched-lowered voices told me they didn’t believe you. Your room became my fallout shelter until I heard your parents’ bedroom door close. Then I scooted to the kitchen.

You were holding your keys. “We should go,” you said, looking like a scolded child.

But, since I was angry, I felt zero pity. And another inferno ignited in your car.

“So, your parents were just down the street!”

You cleared your throat. Your nervous habit. “I thought we’d be finished by time they came home.”

Yeah, Joshua. You said, “Finished.” Like I was a Pinterest project.

Thus, starting a classic Tesshua argument – including patented super-sonic, dual-Aries tyrannosaurus flames.

“And if we weren’t finished?” I yelled. “Or we didn’t hear them. And your mom walked into your room! God! I’m so tired of you never thinking things through!”

Maybe a tad harsh.

You stopped the car. In the middle of the street. Small town. “I did everything you wanted. The candles, the music, the Chinese food–”

“I never asked you too!”

“–I even timed the drive so *Harvey could run over and light the candles.”

My jaw dropped in disbelief. “*Harvey knew about tonight!”

“Yeah,” you whispered. “Nothing happened anyway. Which I expected.”

I inhaled every last molecule of air in the car. “Did you ever think I didn’t want to just have sex and then go home! Maybe I wanted to spend the night! Wake up with you! But, no, you didn’t care about that part. As long as Joshua loses his virginity so he can brag to the guys. ‘Hey, guess who got laid.’ ” Then I shouted, “I’m never sleeping with you! You’re not the one!”

The car sped up. You didn’t rebuttal. We barreled down my parents driveway, stopping inches from the deck, and I grabbed my purse.

“We’re done!” and I stormed from your stereotypical first-guy car.

But we weren’t done. We made up, and we lasted, two non-physical weeks. Until the night you dumped me on grad night.

You were ashamed of our co-virginity status. Your little romp through the concert forest left no doubt in my mind.

And, sure, I was seventeen. But I was just seventeen.

As for “Chinese food-candles-music-possibly satin sheets on the bed” night, I don’t regret not having sex with you. I felt you wanted to stake a claim and implant a flag. 

You wanted to sleep with me because you wanted to conqueror me.

And my fantasy was for someone who wanted to sleep with me because they wanted me.

There’s a difference.


*Names changed for privacy