Liliana Ferrada was 12 years old when she first remembers meeting Hugo Gonzalez.
He lived with his friend’s family on the same block as Liliana’s grandma in Valparaiso, Chile, and whenever there were weddings, funerals or parties, they both would be there.
They never thought of each other as more than acquaintances, though. In fact, Hugo knew Liliana’s grandma better than he knew Liliana. To him, Liliana was just a child, and to Liliana, Hugo was an adult. He was 12 years older than her.
When Liliana, who lived at school and visited her grandma on the weekends, started having problems in math class when she was 15, her grandma asked Hugo, who was studying chemical engineering at a university, if he would tutor her.
“I never thought of him as more than a teacher,” Liliana said. “I admired him. I thought he was very intelligent. When I finished [tutoring] and took my test, I got very good grades.”
The grades were so good, in fact, that Hugo invited her to celebrate by going to drink tea and eat cakes at a tea shop in Valparaiso.
They saw a lot of each other during those early summer months of 1959. Hugo had a Vespa and invited Liliana to take a ride with him to the beach, as just friends. They went to the cinema and dances together, too, where they danced to anything from soft, romantic instrumental music to rock and roll and the tango.
Hugo even gave her a present once, before Liliana went back to school. It was a ring, but not an engagement ring.
“He said, ‘I give you this because I don’t want you to forget me,’” Liliana said.
She doesn’t remember the exact moment she fell for Hugo, but she enjoyed getting to know more about him. He felt the same. But unlike Liliana, he remembers the instant he realized he was in love with her.