He said I looked like a swimmer and I had never thought of myself as athletic. I am trying to remember the name of the man with whom I first had sex. It was over fifty years ago. Names have a way of going down the drain after all that time. Wickedly skipping Easter, I was visiting a high school friend, a nursing student in Philly. The City of Brotherly Love. Brownstones, coffeehouses, neighbors who were men, not boys: It was a life we had strained to imagine the year before.
                One neighbor was a social worker. We visited him upstairs. He made a blender full of daiquiris. This was 1966, and I had never before seen a blender. He put on a record by Ray Charles. You don’t know me, no, you don’t know the one who dreams of you at night. Mr. Charles, he reached right in to me. A shock, a bodily jolt. We sat on the bed and drank daiquiris with the window open to the traffic and the redbuds.
                Another neighbor, let’s call him Arthur or Rick, had white-blond hair. He came around with a book of poems in hand. This was the post-daiquiri morning, Good Friday. My friend was at class all day. I wore a chenille robe, my head robotic-looking with those plastic tube rollers, my hair stiffening with Dippity-Do. I made coffee in the percolator. A scavenged blue door had been laid over the kitchen bathtub. His eyes were blue. He sat cross-legged on the blue door and read poems to me until I was sufficiently drunk on Anne Sexton. Then he gently reached into my robe. I said, But my hair’s in rollers.
                When he left I got rid of the rollers and went out for a newspaper. Reading newspapers was a worldly and purposeful habit I’d started in high school. At the newsstand Time Magazine’s somber black cover declared: God is Dead. I felt the stupidity of that, but suspected my life was about to spin away from all the Sisters of Providence had trained me for. And — foolish girl — I wondered if Arthur or Rick would come back now that I had my hair brushed out. I knew nothing of the ways of men. I still know nothing, beginner’s mind forever my default.
                That afternoon we took a whirlwind tour of bohemian establishments in the neighborhood. We went into The Second Fret on Sansom Street. He talked about Dave Van Ronk and Joni Mitchell. Arlo Guthrie’s initials were carved into a wooden table. He told me a kilo of good Jamaican cost $180. More names were on the tip of his tongue, which I greedily tasted. Tom Paxton. Lightnin’ Hopkins. I was not quite nineteen. I bled on his sheets, all the while eyeing with envy the floor-to-ceiling bookcases, the cavalier way literary journals were stacked helter-skelter, the swimmer in me going out to the reckless sea.

Patricia Henley’s micro-memoirs have appeared in Pembroke Magazine, Atticus Review, Booth, Brevity, and other journals. She is the author of four short story collections and three novels. Her first book of stories, Friday Night at Silver Star (Graywolf, 1986), won the Montana First Book Award. Her first novel, Hummingbird House (MacMurray & Beck, 1999), was a finalist for the National Book Award. Pantheon published her second novel, In the River Sweet. Engine Books published her fourth collection of stories – Other Heartbreaks – in 2011. She lives in Frostburg, Maryland.