I was 10. I went with you to a photographer's studio so you could fix his computer. The photographer spent a lot of time staring at me, and kept talking about having you dropping me off one day so he could take pictures of me.
I did not fully understand why I felt uncomfortable with him, but I knew I did not want him to look at me, talk to me, or take my picture. I read my book and tried to ignore him.
You did not take me back for the private photo session (for which I am grateful), but you also didn't stop the conversation or the leering during that trip to the studio, or during subsequent trips to work on his computer.
I was 13. We would stop at a certain gas station when you took me home from school. It was owned by a family who had a 20-something son who was interested in me. He never missed out on an opportunity to come out from behind the counter and hug me when we came in the store. He put his arm around me and tried to direct me toward the dark corner behind the drink case. I told him no once, and he ignored me - you stood there and did nothing.
When I was going on a band trip to Tampa, he wanted to come along and show me the city. You said it sounded like a great idea. Thankfully he did not show up in Tampa.
I did not like going into that store. The son scared me, his family's encouragement made me nervous, and your refusal to say anything to stop it hurt. In fact, you liked to tease about how he liked me, even after I told you he made me uncomfortable.
We continued to go to that store most afternoons. I was so happy when they went out of business, because I would not have to see him, or be touched by him anymore.
I was 14. We gave my friend rides to school every other morning. I let her sit in the front seat, because your car was such a mess. One Monday I noticed that you were holding her hand, and rubbing her arm. I tried to get her to sit in the back seat with me the next time we drove her, on Wednesday, but there was no room.
Wednesday morning, you took one of her rings and said you wanted to wear it to see how it felt (never mind the fact that you hadn't worn any ring, including your wedding ring for years because of an "allergic reaction to metal on your hands"). You wore her ring as you waved goodbye to us at a school.
After I realized you were still wearing her ring on Thursday night, I cleaned the back seat of the car, making enough room to fit another person. When we got out of the car on Friday morning, I reminded you to return her ring. From that day, I always found a reason to have my friends sit in the back seat with me if we gave someone a ride.
I was 19. Thomas asked to speak with you. I eavesdropped through an open window. He told you that he loved me, and wanted your permission to ask me to marry him. You responded, "You will need someone to keep you warm at night." I think that response speaks for itself.
I have been thinking about my dad the last three weeks, because he called me on my birthday. A phone call that I still haven't fully processed. It was the first time we have talked in over six years. For now, I am just thankful I have stopped having anxiety attacks each time the phone rings, wondering if it will be him on the other line, calling again.