Remember your first? I remember my almost. We met at an English Studies conference panel in Greensboro, NC, where she gave a presentation on “Trauma & Mental Illness in Young Adult Fiction.” After that, we met in Chicago where we chaired a panel on “Suicidal Closure in Modernist Fiction.” Even though we lived on opposite coasts, and she was five years older, we began to develop intimacy quickly. At the next conference we rented a room together, and even though it was unstated, I, who was still a virgin, assumed we’d “get together.” We skipped the conference festivities, instead snuggling on the room’s king bed, murmuring about our childhoods, our depressions, our sexual questioning. I began to think, after a long absence, of a word like love. This is the way things ended between Manesa Gilnum, Ph.D., and I at the Modern Language Association conference in Austin, TX, on January 10th 2016, the night David Bowie died.
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