The sound of the bell rings for sweet freedom. Recess! Nina can hardly wait to run around with Wendy on the black top and play four-square for one half hour. Sweet freedom!
Nina wait up for me! Wait! I can’t go yet. I have to clear off my desk.
Wendy you have the messiest and most smelly cubby hole in the whole fourth grade!
Nina help me!
Of course Nina will help Wendy because they are best friends. I watch in the corner of the room as they hurriedly throw pencils, paper, erasers, and pens into Wendy’s cubby and run out the classroom door. Quietly, I follow behind and watch as Nina and Wendy play hula hoops and laugh and run over to the metal bars to practice the “Dead Man’s Drop.” I should be afraid to watch this but I am not because Nina is the best of the best on the playground. The others watch as she climbs to the top. She knows her adoring crowd is watching so she plays it up and with much bravado she throws both legs over the bar so she is sitting on top of the metal. With full concentration and serious attitude Nina jumps up and throws the weight of her body up and back so that as she falls backward the bar catches her legs and under she swings. Coming up around the bottom; with swift force Nina lets go of the bar with her legs and in mid air she throws out her arms to the side to stick a perfect “Nadia Comaneci” landing. The others clap with enthusiasm at the beauty that is Nina.
Nina, that was great.
No really. It was cool the way you landed. You didn’t look scared. Cool.
Wendy, do you want to play jump rope now?
Ok Nina. Let’s go. Bye Sam.
Bye Wendy. Bye Nina.
Cristina Maria Angelica Santander. From this noble name came Nina. She was born into a family of one. The only child who was the apple of her mother’s eye and could do no wrong in her father’s heart. In this house Nina grew up in the fullness of love and acceptance. Silly, funny, always ready to fight any boy who dared to tell her she couldn’t ride her bike as fast as they could or even go topless on a hot summer day. And what a day that turned out to be. It was an unusually hot day in the canyons and Nina asked her mother if she could take her shirt off like her neighbor David. Her mother was a typical happy hippie who believed in letting it be so she said yes. Without a moment’s hesitation Nina flung off her shirt and decided to go walking down the street with nothing but her long thick to her waist hair and flowered shorts. Nina didn’t understand why a car with a woman would stop in the middle of the street and say,
Little girl. Little girl. You have to put a shirt on.
Because nice little girls don’t go around in public with no shirt on.
Why? Nice little boys do.
Yes but… you’re different. You’re a little girl.
But we look the same. Except I have long hair.
Yes but…you’re a girl.
But my mother said it was ok.
And with that Nina snorted, left the car sitting in the middle of the road to its’ own devices, and continued to walk down the street to Wendy’s house. Upon opening the door to find a half naked Nina-child Mrs. Van Horn shrieked for Wendy to come down immediately with a shirt for Nina. Mrs. Van Horn then had to explain about future boobies and why it was important to cover up to be a lady.
It makes no sense Mrs. Van Horn. I look just like a boy.
Yes I know but someday you’ll look like a woman.
Someday. Right now I look like a boy. With long hair.
Alright Nina that’s enough. You have to wear a shirt in public if you are to play with Wendy outside.
I followed behind quietly and watched as Nina and Wendy rode their bikes down the canyon road to the Thrifty’s to buy a 5 cent scoop of ice cream. I love Nina very much. My name is Michael. Michael James. Nina doesn’t know me but dreams about me every night. She doesn’t know me yet because, you see, I am not yet born. Nina is my mother. I am her son. I don’t yet know my last name. I only know that I love her and cannot wait to be with her when she becomes my mother.
Story to be continued…