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The first year of high school was great. Still awkward at times, but overall great. Or maybe I was just on a high because Jordan told me that he and some of his friends were coming to Ft. Myers for spring break; which meant basically even if I had been thrown aside as the high school equivalent of a societal leper, this was a fantastic first year! I was so excited! Jordan and I had talked on the phone a lot this year but we hadn’t actually spent very much time together before and they were going to be here for a whole week! I started sweating. I’m fairly certain I’m going to make an absolute fool of myself at some point. What if I say something stupid? What if I get a pimple? What if I do something clumsy like fall in my heels? Maybe I should just wear flats. No, I look fatter in flats! I’ll just practice until he gets here. Please don’t be your usual idiot self that week!

Mom had cleaned the house to the point of exhaustion. She was always like that. She would clean the house before a maid came in to clean the house. If anyone, and I mean anyone, was planning on coming over, they may as well have been the Queen of England the way my mom would fuss. Of course, by the time they actually arrived, mom would be able to entertain them for whatever period of time and then was basically down with a migraine or seizure for a few days afterwards, so the house got to be a mess while she was down. Then she would get up when she felt better and run rampant to clean it again…to the point of exhaustion. And so the cycle went.

But the house looked great before everybody got there. As much as mom fussed over the house, I matched her nerve by anxious nerve over myself. I tried to stay calm and say, “Kayla, just be yourself. Its not worth it if he doesn’t like you for you.” But let’s be real, I didn’t like me for me, so I wasn’t going to expect him to. Nope, that would not be good enough. I’d have to make sure I didn’t eat too much this week. Maybe I could get  a few pounds off before he got here. The house was going to look great and I would do my best to look great too.

Jordan rolled into town with his buddies Robby, Ian and Matt. His friends were hysterical. Robby was a tall, skinny guy with spiky blonde hair and glasses. He was smart and sarcastic; the kind of humor that I was deathly afraid of. He would often make people the subject of his jokes and I was terrified that I would become the butt of his rhetoric all week. He never meant to be mean and he rarely was, but still. This was a big week and I did not want to become the center of negative attention in front of Jordan. Ian was a shorter kind of geeky looking kid. He was equally sarcastic, though no one could match Robby in that category. He wore khakis and a plaid button up shirt tucked into his pants. He seemed a bit of an odd man out in this group of guys. Ian and Jordan had shared a love of music. They both sang and played instruments. Ian and Jordan were in a heavy metal band called Negative Zero. He was a pretty amazing drummer. To look at Ian, you would have no idea how he fit in that environment, but kid could play. Matt was a bigger guy. He wasn’t fat. He was broad shouldered and seemed much larger than he was when he stood next to Robby. He could contort his face where it closed like a crater or a sink hole or something. The guys would say “shut your face” and he would shut his eyes tight, and somehow scrunch his face where his features were basically unrecognizable… a rare and weird talent. But that was this group. They were completely unique from each other, but to see them hang out, it was obvious that they felt completely comfortable around each other. Was that unique to these guys or are guys just completely different than girls?

That week was awesome. We spent the days doing random stuff around town and then at night, we would normally hang out at my house. The boys called it “the castle”. Our house was slightly larger than the homes they were from, so that became a bit of a joke throughout the week. There was a large open landing upstairs that overlooked the living room and kitchen that led to my and Heather’s room. The boys called the part of the house that my sister and I shared “the west wing”. Robby would go up to the landing outside of our rooms and make a fake “royal speech” while waving his hand like a really overdramatic beauty contestant.

We had a music room over the garage that my parents had built when we moved in. It was just a large room with a drum set, some recording equipment and a full wall of mirrors for dancing. My parents were awesome about supporting our passions, so they built it so we could spend time doing the things we loved. I spent most afternoons up in that room just wailing my little lungs out. The group made its way up there one night and we were all hanging out being goofballs. It was me, Jordan, Jaime, Schusty, Robbie, Ian, Matt, Alan, Brycie (Jaime’s other best friend), and Merri Beth. After a while Schusty picked up the guitar and started strumming clumsily. She had just started taking guitar lessons and hadn’t learned but probably 5 chords, but that didn’t stop her from snatching the thing up and going to town on it like she was Mick Jagger. I envied her self confidence. Jordan’s brother, Kyle, was about to get married in a couple of months, so Kayla felt inspired to write a song in dedication to our soon to be bedded friend. It was simply entitled “The Sex Song”. She strummed rhythmically on the guitar while seamlessly creating rhymes for Kyle and his soon to be bride. She was hysterical and everyone was laughing at her witty creation. If you picture in your head Phoebe playing her song after Chandler and Monica tell her she can’t play at their wedding, you’ll have a good mental picture of the tone of this performance. After she was finished, she took a bow and left her spot at the center of the room for an empty chair on the back wall.

The “stage” was not empty for long as Ian stepped up and grabbed the guitar Schusty had left and sat in the spotlight.

“I’d like to dedicate this song to all of the pagans out there! To those men whose hair hangs below their ears and women whose skirts hit above their knees.” He strummed on one single chord as if trying to build suspense. “ I would just like to say that the Lord loves you, but I have to say… YOU’RE GOING TO HELL. YOU’RE GOING TO HELL. YOU’RE GOING TO HEEEEEEEELLLLLL.” Everyone bellied over in laughter since he was, obviously,  joking as he screeched on a ridiculously high note. He finished his song and I could barely see through the water that had built up in my eyes..

“I just thought I’d give you all a little melodic theology lesson today. You’re welcome.”

Everybody was cracking jokes and having a good time but it was getting late. Merri Beth and Brycie went home, but Schusty and Jaime were spending the night. The guys were going to stay the night too. They would sleep downstairs on couches and pallets with us girls up in “the west wing”. My dad seemed ok with that as long as there was a flight of stairs and about 2,000 square feet separating us.

The girls all headed upstairs and the guys settled in for the night. Jordan and I stayed back and lingered to talk to each other for a bit.

“You think you’re dad would be ok if I walked you upstairs to your door?” he asked.

“Well Schusty and Jaime are up there too, so I’m sure it’s fine.”

We walked up the stairs and across the landing and stood in front of the door that took us to the hallway where our rooms were. He held my hand and we talked for a bit. Wait. What was happening? Is it just me or is he setting up for something? Is he going to kiss me tonight??!! Oh my stars. This is it. My first kiss. And not just my first kiss but my first kiss with Jordan. I genuinely had no idea this was going to happen this week. Ok, relax, Kayla. This is supposed to feel natural and perfect. We stood talking for a minute. Good gracious he was cute. He had the most adorable dimple on the right side of his face. Well, he had dimples on both sides but the right side was deeper than the left. He had these incredible grey eyes that were slightly lighter around the center. I’m not sure he had ever been this close to me before.

“I had a lot of fun with you today” he said.

“ So did I. Our friends are nuts” we laughed.

“ Yes they are… bunch of crazies.”

“ yeah”

“ Well, goodnight.” he said, but he didn’t go away. He lowered his head and kissed me! I couldn’t believe it. Jordan Grizzard, the guy I had been thinking about since before my braces had come off had just pulled me close to him and kissed me right on the lips! What in the world? It was perfect. I mean, it was quick and a little awkward, but perfect.

I smiled as he pulled away from me, “goodnight”. And with that he went downstairs as I tried to regain my composure. I only had about 10 steps worth of distance to my bedroom where Jaime and Schusty were and I couldn’t look like I was still on cloud nine. I should play this cool. Who am I kidding? I’m not cool! I’m ecstatic!

I collected myself as best I could and walked to my room. I just could not wipe this dopey grin from my face. I opened the door and walked in to see Schusty pulling her night clothes out of her bag and Jaime getting tucked under the covers of her pallet.

“Oh heeeeey,” said Jaime with a toying tone.

“Hello” I said basically singing.

“ I still cannot believe he hasn’t kissed you yet” Schusty snapped.

My mouth curled up even more, “Who says he hasn’t?” I said coyly.

Schusty and Jaime’s heads whirled around and looked at me dumbfounded. They were’t silent for long. They let out the loudest squeal I think I had ever heard come out of their mouths.

“SSSSHHHHH! You guys are killing me!” Well I guess playing it cool is a lost cause. Fairly certain the neighbors down the street heard that, so the boys downstairs were pretty much a guarantee. Oh who cares?! Jordan kissed me!

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We are a family of four just trying to figure out what our "new normal" looks like in Manhattan! I'm Kayla, a 29-year-old creative with a passion for theater and writing. Jordan is a musician and experience pastor with a heart that loves people. And we have two awesome little girls, Jozlyn and Kendall. Our house is crazy...always full of energy and laughter.... and we have no idea what we're doing! Help us figure it out as we go!

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I'm Kayla. Mom of two, wife of one and new New York transplant. We're a family of four fumbling our way through our new normal in Manhattan! We're excited to learn as we go... we can't mess this up too bad, right? :)

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