At age sixteen I officially fell in love. The girl was Kelly. The horse's name was Angel. I loved the girl. I liked the horse a lot. By this time my family had moved into a very wealthy neighborhood defined by horse trails, white picket fences, and a lot of open land, a rarity in California. Kelly would ride bareback along the street, dipping in and out of the shadows to keep Angel cool. Her white blouse moved gently in the breeze while the rest of her bounced rhythmically on the horse. It was her eyes that took me away. As she rode by, she'd glance back over her shoulder with a tiny squint, just enough to make every part of me raise up and wonder what it would be like to kiss her. I'd catch her lying by the community pool, her horse tied to a rail just outside the gate. After a few months, she knew my name and would say hello. After a few more, she offered me a ride...on her horse. A bit later, Kelly rode bareback and I sat behind her, holding her hips as they moved back and forth on Angel. Rising atop an Angel with the woman of your dreams provides a surreal moment. When she turns to kiss you, the moment quickly transforms into an experience. My experience with Kelly changed me. That first kiss was so delicate, the way a single leaf falls from a branch to float upon a river. And slowly it deepened and grew, as did I, and Kelly knew it. We made love on horseback, gently, quietly, for a very long time. I made a silly joke about having the “straw that broke the horse’s back.” Kelly giggled. I kissed her again. We rode home. After that, Kelly and I went riding quite often. Experience turned into experiment and one of them brought me a powerful feeling that would follow me forever. The details are imprinted on my soul. Kelly looked back over her shoulder at me and gave me that tiny squint one final time. This time, we were a part of each other and every ounce of me shivered with a tremendous rush. As I wrapped my arms around her, I finally understood love. The next day, Kelly and Angel were killed by two drunk teenagers in a car accident.
There is a stream by my house. On summer nights I'll wander down to the water's edge and sit, waiting for a leaf to fall from one of the birch trees. When it drifts down, I can feel Kelly's hips moving back and forth in my hands. As it touches the water, I remember her soft kiss, bringing me back to my first love. I like to think Kelly and her horse are riding bareback in heaven, watching over my life. I like to think I have two Angels.