I was choosing a cologne to give to one of my boy cousins today. I sprayed it on my hand to test it, and now I can’t get the smell off. I’ve washed my hands at least four times. Each time, the smell just comes back stronger.

It reminds me of this boy, Tom. He was 15, I think. I was 13. He was the first person to go past second base with me, though we never had sex. And I thought he was the greatest. Except for he smoked, which I hated. I used to give him shit about it. I’d run into him, somewhere in the park (this all went down at Knott’s Berry Farm, of course), and I’d make him kiss me so I could see if he had smoke breath. If he was chewing gum, I’d smell his hands. Not sure how I ended up a pack-a-day smoker at the age of 17. But that’s another story.

We made out whenever, wherever we could. One time we kissed for so long, by the koi pond, that by the time I had to go, my lips were actually swollen. My dad, when I got into the minivan, asked what was wrong with my face.

Another time we were at the Stonewood mall. We walked around the perimiter, looking for some little dark corner to get into. We found a small, walled-in area. Maybe for a dumpster. But it was empty. So we snuck in there and groped each other for a good hour and a half. No sex. Just kissing, touching, holding each other. He wore Aspen cologne, I smelled it on his flannel shirt when I rested my head on his chest. And now whenever I catch a whiff of that alcohol-heavy men’s cologne, the kind that teenage boys wear, I think of him.

It was nice not having anything expected from me, not worrying that I was being used for anything, besides a kiss.

He says, you sound good.

I am good. I have new energy forming.

See, I go through cycles.

Sometimes I’m on fire, getting things done, and creating, and I feel like I have a magnet inside bringing people close to me.

Sometimes I’m quiet and shy, want to be left alone, feel like I’m an animal shedding its skin, or motling. It’s exhausting. I get depressed. But then I come out all shiny and new, because I have recharged.

I was molting for a couple of weeks, but I think I’m done now.