Here’s what I know,” the Facebook message began, days after I’d asked after her. I braced myself before reading on. It had been 40 years, after all, since our high school days in the lackluster confines of life in Buffalo, New York. But she’d always been the bright spot, the kind of girl I’d dreamed about since the age when dreaming about females had become somewhat of a compulsion.
Perhaps that’s why memories of my time with her, pushed so deeply into the recesses of my memory, still swirl in a mixture of fact and fantasy, especially one evening that continues to linger all these decades later. Even now, it reflects how I saw her and how I wanted to see myself—worthy of someone like her.
She was mature, graceful, poised: an iconic presence among us awkward teens. At a time when the rest of us were struggling with inconsistent growth spurts and grotesque acne outbreaks, she remained a bastion of perfection, impossibly gorgeous, and accessible, at least as a friend. She had an older boyfriend, but mostly spoke of him as some distant and complex figure, often referring to him only by his last name. “Gundy told me I looked fat,” she’d say to me between classes. “Fat?!” I’d balk with appropriate horror. “No way!” Her laugh came easily, and her auburn hair tossed forward as she chuckled.
As burgeoning thespians, we were in some plays together. She was never great at acting, but she could take over a stage with her confidence and grace, and simply own…