Here's how lucky I am: back when we were young enough to call it Fooling Around and not be kidding, I got to fool around in a barn. We were friends only because our mothers were friends, they taught English overseas together a million unimaginable years ago. Mom drove us, carful of whiners, across the state to Sharon's farm. It always took too long, getting there and being there, none of us wanted to go, we knew how boring it would get by the end of the weekend.

Kim and I were expected to play Barbies together because we were at the Barbie age together. Go Play Barbies, said our mothers who wanted to drink brandy in the kitchen and talk about our dads in voices too low to eavesdrop until one of them pealed out into laughter. My mom pounded the table sometimes; it embarrassed me

Barbie was going to get married I think, maybe just go to prom, whatever, preparations took so long to get her dressed and set the scene that we were sick of it and quit before the action started. Kim said Let's go look at the kittens so we did. The barn was dark even in afternoon, dusty shafts of light spearing in through knotholes. Silent. One lame horse chewing straw and eyeing us. Kim led the way to the base of the ladder which I would not admit to being scared of. I did not live in a world that expected me to go up rickety handmade ladders made of threatening rustnails pounded through uneven lengths of gray board. Kim didn't hesitate so neither could I.

At the top she showed me a nest of kittens but they were not kittens as I knew them, these were wild and yellow and wanted nothing to do with us. The mother was full of hate and hissed us to the other side of the hayblocks. Kim had a blanket and wizard of oz books and warm cokes stashed up there, she said she liked it by the triangle window looking out over the cows. I imagined her freckled face getting closer and closer to the book until it got too dark.

Maybe the freckles were why I let her kiss me. It wasn't a big deal of a kiss. Mostly we were talking and tickling and throwing hay over the edge and at each other and then she was kissing me a little bit, not even centered correctly, sort of on the edge of my lips and I held very still and my hand was on her arm, tough and muscley, from doing farm things I could only imagine. How many implements did she use every day, how many scythes and harness buckles did she know that I would only ever see in Americana museums, rusted?

It was probably only that one kiss but more important was lying in the hay together. One of us said Gee it's getting chilly up here and snuggled against the other one, it was a joke, we were awkward, we were kids who wanted to touch each other but didn't know how to get away with it. We were both in shorts and thin tshirts and the hay was hard and pokey, scratched us all over but it was important that we stay for a while, uncomfortable, next to each other, hands moving on each other just a little, just enough.