The first memory of her I have is of the first of June, the very beginning of summer. My friends and I have always held an annual party in the nearby beaches, each always a little different than the last.. Squished in a big black van with a bunch of miscellaneous friends and quite a few others who were just friends of friends of friends. The amount would grow every year, every face not quite the same.
It didn't matter who you were, just that you're along for the ride together- everyone laughed and joked, already high on the fresh summer air and the ocean breeze we could almost taste. There was your best friend Davey and that one girl who used to smile at you when you walked down the dusty hallways of the schoolyard. There was the girl with the bright, rainbow colored skirts and the boy with the broken smile, arm hooked around his cheerfully talkative boyfriend. Looking around the crowded van and giving a name to every face (some squished with five others on a single seat, others swaying with the movement of the van on the dirty floor) and I stopped short.
There was a girl. One I couldn't quite put a name to, for if I had ever seen her before I would have stopped dead.
Eyes of green, eyes of four leaf clovers- hair the color of the sun. She was in the very back, bare feet crossed on top of the ripped up cushions as she joked with a group of rich city boys.
The van stopped. The driver yelled, "Whatcha waitin' for!?" as those nearest to the doors fiddled with the handles- the doors burst open a second later with the waves of people, almost euphoric with the fresh air. The girl was forgotten as I was pulled onto two men of different sizes's shoulders as we all rushed down the small hill to the beach below.
Dancing and laughing and drinking Dandelion Wine, we were free. So carefree, in fact, those who were come of age may have called us possessed. Rushing in the waves, screaming back out, even the shyest of boys playfully gathering up the girls in their arms before dancing in circles.
We gathered driftwood- given from one hand to another- until a pile was built that reached even higher than Brad, the ever-smiling gentle giant who could lift you with one hand. Even he laughed with us as we all rushed into the waves.
The torch seemed to come from nowhere as it was thrown on the fire, erupting into the biggest of flames. We burned away our pasts, our beings, simply living as Us. We danced around the bonfire, illuminated by the setting sun hiding almost completely behind the horizon. Sparks danced on the waves, opposites gathered without crossing over the other.
Flashes of color- the smile of the oriental girl as she whirled in circles, grey clothes less dull. The glance of rainbow skirts, paired with the dark hair of the boy with the now-mended smile. Then, her. Suddenly, as if a gift that had been thrusted into your arms.
"Would you like to dance?"
A smile as you pulled her up into your arms, her laugh as you twirled in circles with the rest of the crowd. A mixing of voices, of the stomping of feet and the flash of sand as all danced around the bonfire that reached for the stars.
The fire faded, the ashes blew in the now-growing wind.
We all settled, our voices turning to whispers as we turned to the stars.
As bright as million streetlights, high in the sky.
A few at a time, we peeled off to pile back into the van- my hand now grasped firmly in hers.