September 25, 2020:
I had a very underage teenage girlfriend who'd introduced herself to my radio voice. She was beautiful, meant well, and like every working-class girl I'd known had been raped, in her case by two school friends who'd driven her into the mountains, held her down, and taken turns with her. She was confused about her role in the world, unsure of her relationship with men, and liked me because I was patient with her and never tried to force her in any way.
She'd turn up at random. I don't know if she drove or hitch-hiked or had a friend give her a ride, but I learned her knock on my dormroom door and felt I had to let her in, no matter how far behind I was in the current assignments. She liked me and needed someone. I felt, once we'd gotten together, I owed her the time.
Her younger sister was very different. Self-possessed, self-determined, in no way self-deprecating, much smarter. She watched, she saw, she understood. She also would turn up unannounced, driven by an older boy who seemed to adore her, to dislike leaving her alone with me, and to possess infinite patience for hanging around college dorms.
One day she came to tell me her older sister, my girlfriend, had run away to Florida to live with relatives. "Is she okay?" Yes, and it got her away from patriarchal abuse and raping high school boys. "What about you, are you okay?" Yes, she's fine, and I believed she was. I don't think she took abuse, from patriarchs or high school boys or anyone else.
That was her final visit. She did a strange thing. After assuring she was okay she leaned back on the bed, on her elbows, shoulders back breasts forward, anticipating. What? Did she expect that with her sister now removed I'd be hers?
Maybe I should have. Maybe her self-possession would have brought something stable into my life. But I was nineteen and she was thirteen and while I then thought the world of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, it seemed unreasonable. I feel that in turning her down I did the responsible thing. But ever since I've wondered. All my relationships were such destructive disasters, maybe hooking up with someone who knew who she was, despite our ages, might have been a step forward. At least one of us would have known herself.
I think of them, both, all the time. I hope they're safe, happy, and have grandkids who love them.