I fell head over heels in love for the first time when I was 18, a freshman in college. She was a woman beyond me — too smart and too beautiful and too funny. I knew how to talk to her but I didn’t know how to court her. At 18 I just wasn’t man enough for it. She knew how I felt about her, though I never told her, and I think she was touched by my feelings and by my bewilderment.
One night during a drunken party at our freshman dorm I was out in its courtyard and saw her sitting in the window of my room. I climbed up to the window and she pulled me into her arms and into a kiss, a long and passionate kiss.
The next day she acted as though it hadn’t happened, and so did I. I couldn’t relate the moment we’d shared to the real world, couldn’t climb up to that window again. I think I believed — and undoubtedly I was right at that stage of my wayward progress into manhood — that one kiss was all I deserved from such a woman. We stayed distant friends.
Two years later she was killed in a car crash, at the age of twenty. The memory of that kiss, frozen forever in time, remains the greatest romantic moment of my life, and a kind of honor that I still feel I need to live up to. My feelings for her and my bewilderment abide — 46 years on they’ve never changed, not even a little bit.