Cooper and I lived on the top floor of an old, two story, hip roofed, building. When the wind blew hard from the east in the winter, snow drifted in on the sills and the windows frosted over on the inside. The cold didn’t bother me. I wore long flannel granny gowns with wool socks and a sweatshirt to bed at night. We were young; after a little while our clothes were off, piled under the pillows until morning or until the cold crept in under the covers. Cooper’s parents drove their BMW up from Westchester county. Normally, we kept the heat turned down and piled clothes on, for Cooper’s parents we cranked the heat.
They were subtle cultured people. Both of them seemed to like me. Later Cooper told me his dad had said to him, “You’ll break her heart.” They saw. In the late spring I went with him to spend the weekend sailing on their Pierson 10 meter. They were surprised that I could sail; not impressed, just not expecting any ability. The following Thanksgiving I took Cooper home to the boatyard. By that time I was fully assimilated in his family, in my imagination.
I knew I could trust my father, Ambrose, Richard, Frankie, and even Noah to keep my secrets but I wasn’t as certain of other people in town. I’d lived my life independent of convention. It was safe to assume that I was not part of a large membership of young ladies to leave for the prom in a lovely formal with matching shoes and clutch, returning in the wee hours of the morning, clad only in my underthings without the foggiest notion of where I had left my prom dress and accessories. Cooper didn’t have a similar background.
He spent the visit listening to my father and all of the boatyard family. He was charmed by Ambrose especially. At night lying beneath the eaves in my twin bed he’d remark, “It’s like being a character in a novel. I can’t believe you grew up with them.” He was envious of the direct communication all of us had with each other. His family was too polite to say what they thought.
Before we left for Massachusetts, Ambrose took me aside, “Lucy he will only hurt you if you let him. Don’t let him.” I hugged Ambrose, a little bit annoyed but appreciative of his meddling concern, “You worry too much.”