Points along the lust-to-intimacy continuum.

My son’s romantic relationship just turned one year old. Fucking wow. I can barely remember my first long relationship, ’62 to ’64. God, she was something, the kind of girl it’s a pleasure to walk behind—like she had just invented hips and was taking the prototypes out for testing. I would go over to her house after her parents were asleep and slip in the side door, and she’d be there on the basement landing naked under a muumuu, and we would do things the CN&R won’t print. She was 14.

Before that, my romances pretty much corresponded to school semesters, since outside school I knew mostly just the kids in my Chicago neighborhood, and pickings were slim in my cohort in West Chesterfield, or that’s what I thought. I’d see my “girlfriends” at school and at parties maybe, and we talked on the phone plenty, but I hardly ever went to a girl’s house to visit. Once my girlfriend—when I was sophomoric in every possible way—actually got her “brother’s friend” to bring her to my house when my parents weren’t at home so we could kiss. She said she could taste my toothpaste.

Although I can understand a guy falling in love with any girl willing to have sex with him, that never worked for me. When I got B’s panties off in the back seat of our ’59 Chevy I realized that she was cute enough, but I didn’t really like her all that much, and I pleaded drunk and took her home. She liked me, but that wasn’t enough for me to be inside her body. That’s how it’s been, with only one exception: a beautiful model I photographed once. When I asked her if it was all right to touch her to adjust her position, she looked me in the eye and said, “Touch me any way you want,” and—after I got the shots I wanted—I did.

Janice is her own category, what with reproduction and all. By the time we met, I could finally see past the booty, figuratively speaking. Lust lasted a long time, and a deeper connection grew at fits and starts until she died. At first a girlfriend was a sex partner, actual or hoped-for, and then emotional intimacy began imperceptibly to count for more than fluid exchange. I’m growing up.

And now here I am, old as the hills and in yet another relationship. Wow, indeed. I like this old love, in no hurry with nothing to prove or fear.