mad rush — philip glass

3 min readJan 20, 2022

“First times are tender.” — Christine Herzer

First times are tender, the caress of a fingertip against the small of your back, lips fitting together like two pieces of a puzzle destined for each other, grab of the inner thigh, hard at first — you gasp — and then mesmerizingly soft.

Let me begin again.

First times are tender. The first time I ever fell in love, for real, with another person, I was seventeen.

The first time I fell out of love, for real, with another person, I was twelve.

First times are tender. This is a story about pulling my hairs out one by one. First times are tender.

The first time I ever had sex was during a tornado. His dad was in the Little House outside. We thought we might have to seek shelter, and in between the fear nestled love, a true excitement to be seventeen with each other. His room was blue and orange and the shirt I was wearing was striped. It was so beautiful, I cried so much, and he understood more than he was ever supposed to, and the wind whipped the side of the house.

The first time I stopped loving him was when his hair got long in the summer. The first time we broke up was in January. The first time we had sex after we broke up was in his bed at 104. It was a first time all over again.

This is not about him. This is a story about first times.


It was Halloween night. It was many years ago. It was yesterday. It was over and over again, nineteen times.

Let me start by saying,

I don’t know where this story will go. This is about me. This is about you. This is about cigarettes.

My first cigarette, was with Ben. In Ohio. First times are tender. His eyes are dark and sunken, sharp edges with black eyebrows to match, the first time I see his smile it is tender.

My first kiss, was with Elly. I think me, Elly, and Lydia all took turns writing about it in my journal that night.

My first date, was with Aubrey. We went bowling. He paid for all of it. We drove around in his car because we were sixteen and didn’t know what else to do. We went to Michael’s. I think I got yarn to make a friendship bracelet.

My first crush, was on Ani. Or maybe Peter Pan.

First times are tender. I sit and wait patiently for my next first time. The hard part is the exhale. When the first time ends, and you sit there and wonder if there will ever be a second time. Everything is a first time. The first time I text you after our first time. The first time you don’t reply.

If you do reply, the second time is our first second time. Maybe we will have a first last time. First times are tender. I scattered you into everything, knowing you’d be hard to erase. I kept all our pictures.

The first time we became friends, was the first time I think I understood myself.

The first time it rained,

I told Josh. He held me, and I stayed cold. Cryogenically frozen for weeks. The first time I told anyone else,

Three months later, it happened for the second time

Six months later,

Six months later, wow. Already?

The first time I heard this song I breathed deeply. The first time I met you I couldn’t get the smell of maple syrup out of my nose. The first time I saw you leave I didn’t think I’d ever hear from you again. The last time I saw you leave, I didn’t.

First times are tender.




Isabella (she/her) writes stories. She graduates with a BA in May 2024 and is going on to pursue her MFA in creative nonfiction at the University of Kentucky.