She was only 19 years old. He was her best friend’s neighbor who lived just down the road. He was also working with her dad on a civic project. They were good friends. Maybe not good enough. He was a professor at the local university and she was a student. His student in just one class. Just another student. He was a young professor, a new Assistant Professor. Only ten years older than she was. He was married with a beautiful little girl.
He was tall, blonde, incredibly handsome. She was mesmerized by him. In class, when he came to her house to see her dad, when she was at her best friend’s house and they watched him and giggled at the window. She had a little crush on him as student’s sometimes do on their professors. Everything he did had transcendent importance to her. She never dreamed anything would really happen between them. She was speechless and tongue-tied around him.
Then he started flirting with her a little. She thought she was imagining it. She flirted back, but she thought it was just a game. Back when she was 19, a lifetime ago, that wasn’t very old especially not in the environment in which she had grown up. She had only one real boyfriend and that had ended badly. She had grown up very sheltered. She hadn’t been allowed to stay out late or date many people. She was living at home while she attended college.
The flirting grew and he asked her to join him one night when he had to drive to another nearby town. Just to talk, he said. She was so incredibly flattered that she didn’t even think about the fact that it was probably wrong. The wrong thing to do. He was, after all, a married man. She rode with him that night.
Thirty-five years later, he had moved on to another university in another state. She had married, divorced, and married again. When he was in the vicinity, he still called her and asked her to take a ride with him. She still saw everything he said and did as transcendentally important. He had affected her in a way that lasted the rest of her life.