Nathan and Haley’s first kiss on One Tree Hill will always be top-tier at this point. Since the moment it happened in 2003, nearly two decades later, it has remained one of the greats. It still evokes chills and tears and everything else in between because the purity at the moment is unmatched.
I’ve re-watched this scene a thousand times at this point, but something about re-watching it now while simultaneously listening to Drama Queen’s Podcast hits different. It’s more vulnerable, it’s softer, and somehow, it’s even more beautiful as an adult whose seen so many first kisses, the lists have become endless.
But more than that, it’s about the couple—it’s the fact that with Nathan and Haley, so much of their beginning is so precious as a result of their innocence.
As much as this is Haley’s first kiss (that we know of), in spite of his experience, it’s very much Nathan’s first real kiss too. This is the first time he has been vulnerable enough to give parts of his heart to someone else so completely, that it’s just as terrifying for him. He doesn’t know how to do any of this because he’s never wanted to open himself up to another human the way he has wanted to with Haley. He has never wanted to be more transparent or more vulnerable and that is more terrifying than any loss or any remark Dan can make.
It’s not that he’s embarrassed to be seen with her, but it’s the detail that he doesn’t know how to be someone who’s deserving of her. And the fact that the show allows him to be transparent with her at this moment is what speaks volumes. It’s the reason the kiss is so moving because you feel every ounce of his reservations cobbled so deeply with his desires it cements itself into utter passion brilliantly.
Sometimes, words do the trick, other times, there are none. And for Nathan especially right now, he is coming up short because everything he feels is all the things he has never expected to. Everything he feels is a direct result of the woman who stands before him, bravely admitting that there is nothing he could do that wouldn’t surprise her. Haley standing her ground inspires the vulnerability in Nathan so acutely because everything that is good within her is everything that he has longed for without ever realizing it’s what he has needed.
It doesn’t help that Switchfoot’s “Dare You to Move” is the most perfect song to choose for the two of them, but Nathan and Haley’s first kiss is all about uncertainties and promises. It’s about two people with a connection so palpable, it’s heartwarming and so achingly sweet that you could feel every ounce of their pull to each other.
Nathan and Haley’s first kiss is about establishing that in the midst of all the uncertainties, they are both sure of the fact that they care for each other. As of right now, for both of them, this is a risk worth taking. It’s a path worth crossing.