On the night of my fifteenth birthday, my family and I gathered around the lit birthday cake, our faces dancing in the enchanted, shadowy light. I believed entirely and childishly in the magic of birthday wishes, and thought deeply about the wish I was about to make. As I exhaled my first official breath as a fifteen-year-old, the only thought that went through my mind was one that was becoming a habit: “I wish this year I would kiss a boy.”
As my girlfriends and I grew into our teens, the topic of boys began to slowly enter our otherwise exclusive world. But while other girls covered their notebooks in the names of crushes they fawned over, mine contained random doodles and the occasional heart. I had a desire that was nameless and faceless. I was still figuring out who I was, let alone who the numerous boys walking the halls of my school were. As I got older it became obvious that I lacked in the dating department, and I eventually became the source of ridicule among my friends. I felt pressure to seek out this experience that seemed so important to my girlfriends, and stared constantly devising ways to bring a kiss into being.
One day my mother took me to a specialty gift shop, and I quickly noticed a section devoted to magic. Several boxes labeled with titles like “love,” “money,” and “luck” caught my attention. They were spells that “guaranteed success” in the indicated area. I eyed the love spell and itched to buy it, thinking it might cure my kiss-less lips, but eventually bought the money spell out of embarrassment.
That night I opened the box and removed the contents: a candle, a cone of incense, a scroll, a small bag of dried flower petals, and an instructions sheet. As my face danced in the shadow of the lit candle, I followed the instructions and read the scroll aloud. Then I went to bed with thoughts of dollar signs in my head.
The next afternoon, while on my way home from school, I spotted a lone dollar bill and grabbed it quickly in excitement. “The spell!” I thought, “It worked!” As I held the dollar, I thought of the kiss that could have been if only I purchased the love spell instead. But my initial happiness faded when I thought back to the eight dollars I had spent on the money spell, and how only one of those dollars had returned.
Finding the dollar felt like a special event only because I gave it that meaning, but my efforts of finding money and love were misdirected. Instead of spending time thinking about what I wanted from a potential partner, I relied on magic to make my decisions for me. It was a clear indication that I wasn’t mature enough to make the right choice on my own yet.
It wasn’t until three years later that I experienced my first kiss. It came without pressure from someone else or the use of spells, and it was certainly more magical than an unripe kiss would have been because, finally, on my own, I was ready.
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