The summer I was 18, I fell in love. Just three years older, he was more a man than a boy, as both his parents had died in an accident and he'd taken responsibility for his younger brother and sister. They lived in a two-family house in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, downstairs from his aunt and uncle.
Bay Ridge was a heavily Italian-American neighborhood then, where you were expected to know what the after-dinner question "Black or brown?" meant. (Espresso, or American coffee?) His family seemed to tolerate me, except for his sister, who was beautiful but shrewish - perhaps wearing a girdle as a kind of chastity garment had warped her soul - and she screamed at him one early morning because she discovered that I'd stayed over, and called me a slut.
It didn't matter to me. I wanted him passionately, repeatedly and for hours at a time, until the sheets were soaked. We took several driving trips around the state that summer and fall in his beat-up BMW 2002, pulling off the New York State Thruway at least once because I just couldn't wait to have him again.
That winter, he told me he was planning to go to law school in the Midwest. I begged to go with him, and when he said that wouldn't be wise we broke up, leading to my spending many hours in my dorm room in the dark, smoking and listening to Billie Holiday's "Good Morning Heartache," and then to a series of many, many foolish choices in the few years that followed. (Yes, there will be details, eventually, and they will be far juicier than this entry.)
Still, when I ran into him five years later, I was happy to see him. He was married and practicing law, I had a job I loved and a man I was crazy for, and we had a pleasant lunch.
I never saw him again, but through the magic of Google I was able to establish that he is now a partner in a midtown law firm, specializing in real estate. So I now have his email address and phone number, but I don't plan to use them.
I learned about agony and ecstasy from him, and about how to kiss a man with a mustache. And my memories of him are perfect just the way they are.