Hunter Levinsohn
Hunter Levinsohn Stories


I met Tom the second semester of my freshman year in college. I was part of the NSA delegation from my school attending a national conference at N.C. State and he was a delegate from his school, the Air Force Academy. I never pass the old student union on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh without thinking of Tom. He was the only boy I ever dated who fit the description of "All American Boy." He was blonde and blue eyed with a beautiful smile and athletic physique.

In the early spring I met him in Washington D.C. when the Academy sent him with a delegation for something, maybe this time it was some sporting event; I don't remember, but I went up and spent the weekend with my college friend, Judi Stevens, at her mother's house. It was early spring; I was still wearing my winter coat, a Chesterfield with small green and black checks with a velvet collar; Tom kept taking my picture wherever we went which I was totally unused to. Somewhere I have a photograph that was taken of the two of us that weekend.

That summer Tom came through Charleston on his way to Brazil, or maybe it was a more leisurely visit during his summer furlough from the Academy. This was the first time that my mother met him. And, she was, instantly, head over heels in love with Tom.

In December he was my escort at my debutante party. By this time I knew that I was not in love with Tom. We continued to communicate and I think that I saw him at least once and maybe several times after that. He graduated from the Air Force Academy at the end of my sophomore year and went to Argentina on a Fullbright.

I wrote to him the end of my junior year because I had friends who were going to spend the following year in England and I knew that Tom was going to be in England on a Rhodes Fellowship. The response to my letter was a telegram from his family saying that he had been killed several days earlier in Buenos Aires. Later in the summer my parents went to see his family when they and my grandmother were in Miami and we learned the circumstances of his death.

It was only after I finished this piece, "First Flight" that I began to realize exactly why my mother was so wild about Tom, or about the idea of me and Tom; he represented everything a mother could want for her daughter: he was smart, good looking, feet solidly planted on the ground, he had a life plan, everything! And I began to understand why my not being in love with him was so painful and devastating for me. And that, the piece, already named when I realized it, was so aptly titled "First Flight"


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