Near where I live is a faded stop sign. Painted over after someone had vandalized it. The red turned to pink and I’m reminded that the stop sign isn’t so much a statement to drivers as it is a symbol. The red, the 8 sides, the white lettering and the specific white font all leave us with the symbol to stop. To go no further without checking the road for cars that would derail our journey and leave us in pieces inside our own metal coffin on wheels.

There’s a modern sensibility to that way of thinking. To replace feelings and emotions with symbols, but I’m not ready to do that yet. I want you to feel every feeling and emotion I have. The uncertainty that comes from a first kiss. The way the thought lingers in my mind as I assess just how likely it is to be returned. And having been on the receiving end of both the ‘thanks, but no thanks’ head turn and the grab your body and pull it into mine kiss, I can tell you that the risk is worth it.

Even then, perhaps, you won’t understand. A first kiss is a symbol. It’s something new. Without blemish. All possibilities and no down sides. But it doesn’t take into the account those green boots you always wear. First kisses almost always happen hidden away. In parking lots and back seats and hallways and places where people say good bye. And again, those are just symbols.

I’ve held you in a parking lot and felt your cold face pressed against my neck. I’ve felt the cold of tears that won’t freeze run down my neck and under my collar. There’s a certain chill that comes from that type of exposure. Of you to me. Vulnerability. There’s no symbolism in vulnerability. Just two humans splayed open like cadavers for inspection by others.

And the back seat. A symbol. I’ve never been in your back seat before. But from your front seat, I know what type of music you listen to, because I was there when you turned on your car. The trinkets and wrappers that lay around. Memories of a different time. A different person even. They’re closer to the truth than any symbols you might mention in conversation as a way to distract me from the way you were.

The echo of an empty hall way. There’s nothing wrong with a first kiss in a hallway, but there’s no sense of finality. In a parking lot, you kiss and then the cars drive by, perhaps without even noticing you. But you notice them. A five car kiss is different than a two car kiss. A two car kiss is I’m drunk and I might regret this in the morning. A five car kiss is a don’t let go of me and I like you. Hallways don’t have that luxury. Empty ones go on forever. It’s easy to loose track of what this means.

And that’s the point of it all, with you. It’s easy to loose track. I like that about you. The way the faded stop sign reminds me of nothing about you, and yet every time I pass it, I think of you. Maybe that’s what it means to love someone. Or maybe that’s what it means to not understand the difference between symbolism and reality. I’m not sure. But as for me, I’ll pick you. I pick you.