I am free, it is Summer, and we are lounging on Shelter Island.
Interlocking our fingers, we keep glancing at each other -
after three months on different poles of the country, we’re taking inventory of each other’s faces.
The sun is a little too hot, and the shade is strangely too cold -
I laugh at our struggle to find the perfect spot for our blanket.
I am not bothered.
Despite my usual self-consciousness, I lean in as Daniel snaps a photo of us relaxing on the grass.
Tapping our feet, we sing together as he strums his guitar next to me:
We used to laugh a lot
But only because we thought
That everything good always would remain
Nothing’s gonna change there’s no need to complain..
I walk into my favorite restaurant with Daniel, and as I turn the corner all of my friends faces come into view.
Cowering with shock and, well, surprise, I turn to run away. I am laughing uncontrollably.
It’s a month before my Birthday.
In an act of love characteristic of my teenage friends, they have planned an early Surprise Party so that I can celebrate with them before I move.
Sneaking up behind me, Shalene carries a double-layer homemade chocolate cake.
As I count the rainbow of candles (18), I am unaware of the goofy grin on my face. A candid snapshot captures this moment.
Two weeks later, I fly from California to Washington and assimilate into the unfamiliar collegiate masses.
Invariably, I look at my photo every day of my first year of college.
On the dismal, dreary days, this image protects me.
My Mom is Scarlett O’Hara and my Dad is a Rhett Butler.
She wears a red taffeta gown with black lace ruffles and a matching stole;
He wears a three-piece suit with a lavish silk ascot.
The priest (a friend) points a pistol -
In classic comic form, there is a flag hanging out of the barrel.
It reads, Shot Gun Wedding!
At this Gone With the Wind costume party, my young parents are dating,
reveling in their playful attire.
This moment is immortal:
We have the photograph.