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A Consequential Coming of Age

After half a lifetime of dating, one woman realizes her most torrid affair had been with a girl—whose brash style had indelibly influenced the woman she'd become

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  • Larissa, like me, was the daughter of Eastern European immigrants and lived in a scarcely furnished apartment on the second floor of a two-family row house where Cyrillic lettering lined the bookshelves. Watching her after-school transformation was not unlike watching a rock star get ready for a performance. The plaid skirt and collared blouse were discarded on the floor and replaced by second-skin jeans and a low-cut top, the school flats by Air Jordans. (This was the first time I saw thong underwear; Larissa didn't hide or leave the room to change like other girls our age.) She applied bronzer to her fair skin that left streaks along her jaw and then, with the quick, practiced motion of a calligrapher, outlined her mouth in dark, heavy lipliner. She pulled out one strand of hair from her tight bun and sizzled it with a curling iron, producing smoke. Gold hoops entered her earlobes.

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A Consequential Coming of Age
After half a lifetime of dating, one woman realizes her most torrid affair had been with a girl—whose brash style had indelibly influenced the woman she'd become
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