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Woman A: The longest lasting of these relationships started when I was 18 and he was 40. However, we didn't start dating until I was 18 and he was 36. They split up around 2009 and I didn't hear from him for 18 months. Do you think your age was part of the attraction for him?
Woman B: Twenty-seven and he recently turned 42 (we're still together). We discovered we had a lot of interests in common and became good friends. Most of the men I dated more casually at the time were in their 30s. It also made me feel special — this man seemed so much more worldly than the men my age, and the fact that he was interested in me seemed too good to be true. Woman D: Originally I think I was flattered that somebody who had experienced so much of life was interested in me.
In the initial years following, I never really talked about this with anyone other than my high school girlfriends and various therapists.
I think it felt good for him that an 18-year-old was choosing to spend time with him.
There was something especially cool about being friends with them. I was wearing a Bundeswehr tank top I'd gotten at an Army supply store and faded jeans, a thrift shop crucifix around my neck. But as we sat there together in the sunshine, the wine buzzing my head, I suddenly felt … Many memories remain fuzzy, but incidents such as that day in the forest remain in crisp detail. It was late and my parents were asleep as we drove over to the house where T. At some point, my friend left to go somewhere, and for whatever reason I didn't go with him. Maybe he only stepped out to go to the store down the block. This was after the night at his house, though how much later I cannot say. "That's your mom talking." I told him that this wasn't true: it was my choice.
My friend (who was my age and in high school with me) worked at a ski resort near us. He's always been attracted to a person's personality. He actually thought I was older than I am, and both his wives were close to him in age.In tenth grade, we made friends with a group of older guys who hung out on the main street of town, which ran parallel to the local university — guys who'd once gone to our same high school and had never left the social scene. " "So, no normal 20 year old wants to hang out with someone who is 15. Stay away from him." This was the sort of thing that always led to my leaving the room in a teary huff, maintaining loudly that she Just Didn't Understand. One Saturday, the guys planned a picnic in a nearby forest park. All I had was my instinct and discomfort — a bad gut feeling. When I write novels, there is always a clear trajectory: the beginning, middle, climax, and end. When they weren't doing BMX and skateboard tricks in front of the post office, they were spending what money they had at the nearby arcade, or spinning on stools and shooting straw wrappers in their favorite burger joint, just across the street. "I don't want you hanging around with someone that much older than you." "Mom." I'm sure I rolled my eyes. Once again, she was treating me like a child, someone unable to make her own decisions. It didn't seem like such a big deal, as my best friend was doing nothing sneaking around to be with her boyfriend. Suddenly, I wasn't that scared, invisible girl anymore, watching from the sidelines. I remember it was a gorgeous fall day, crisp and cool, and the first time I'd had Brie cheese and red wine. With real life, however, and memory especially, it is harder to keep things so neat and organized. In the first, I snuck out of the house with a guy friend who lived down the street. My friend came back, we went home and I slid back into my bed. The second incident I remember happened when he was giving me a ride home. I was the oracle, remembering each detail from my supporting role. I remember how quiet it was, birds soaring overhead, no other sound. We had gotten in the habit of him driving me home, and my suddenly wanting to make different arrangements seemed to inconvenience everyone. He stopped the car with a jerk, right past the top of my driveway, and I grabbed the door handle and got out. For many years afterward, I took total blame for everything that happened between me and T. It was with this in mind that I began my narrator Sydney's story in . Like me and Sydney, she will most likely yearn for attention at one point or another. But how can I teach her that it is just as OK to need that scrutiny to stop? There was safety in the shadows, but also a kind of darkness. Even worse, I couldn't say why I didn't want to go with him.