No longer interested in playing with other girls; Todd grew to love and cherish his time with Nina. The months spent together peeled off the calendar and turned into years. Never said by either but always understood would be the moment when it was time to say goodbye and move off to college as he was a year older than his precious little fighter. Time to graduate. It was tearful and filled with heartfelt promises of forever love. But even the best laid plans of keeping in contact faded with the reality of distance and time spent apart. There were no hard feelings. They were growing up and moving on each of them. And nothing would ever change the memories of the sweetness of their young devotion to each other.
Nina grew to be a happy and free wandering young woman with the ever-present Wendy always by her side. BFFs since the fourth grade. Ever since Wendy convinced Nina to tie poor Sam up with a jump rope to the Jungle Gym to keep him from following her around the playground like a lost puppy. The girls were marched to the principal’s office and forced to apologize to Sam. Nina was sorry too. But she couldn’t let her best friend down and besides Sam really was a pest and everybody knew it. Yes. Wendy was the friend who would be there for my mother during the happiest and the most painful and difficult moments to come.
Summer, however, belonged to the girls alone. To running on the beach and diving in the ocean at Daytona. And dancing. The Ocean Deck was a bar on the beachside of A1A. No, there would be no lovers for Nina. No time and no interest. Just university. Studying. Working at the school bookstore for extra cash. And dancing. Not just any dancing. But reggae dancing on the tiniest dance floor ever seen and laughing with cute bright boys from faraway places like Boston and Portland. Nothing ever came of these encounters but Nina and Wendy owned the Ocean Deck dance floor. The bartenders knew the girls and gave them sodas with a smile and the hope of something more in the future.
The goal was as simple as getting to the middle of the floor to sway and bounce under the lights and laugh and play and live life as alive and fresh and sweat filled as two girls could. The night always ended with a run toward the surf at two in the morning. Saturday afternoon volleyball games under the sun on the beach outside the bar never failed to spark new friendships with other like-minded college kids. It was fun and carefree.
Working at the bookstore opened Nina’s eyes to a wide world full of wonder and awe and I loved to watch as she walked down the aisles of books in the morning before the store opened and lightly touched the books that interested her. History. Psychology. Politics. There was so much to learn and Nina wanted to learn it all. Wendy and Nina ate lunch in the commons and talked about what to major in and where they would live after college. How fast time flies when suddenly the girl becomes the woman.
Story to be continued…..