It is the age of all ages: the prima of innocence, where days of summer flow like silk. I am the epitome of bliss, and it all awaits me now.

Last days of freshman year upon us in a fine sublime of joy: the abrupt cessation of school and mellowing of moods sweep through like a fantastic plague, pool parties til we are prunes, gritty daylight invading all of dusk’s nocturnal hours. Hard in our hopes and soft in our smiles, dashing like hellions into the bursting of June. Giggling has become our job in the world as we flounce around plush palm-treed neighborhoods in ripped jean shorts and triangle tops, until the sky is eggplant purple and our eyes aglaze. Pretend we are sophisticated seniors who can’t hardly wait to graduate and throw the grandest parties of their lives. So oblivious we are, like dandelions in a fruit harvest.

Tampa General Hospital: such a grand tower swollen with muttering medical workers, bleary-eyed in their harried hustling. Teen volunteer with Mom: daily routine of 5 am wakeups and dress-up in scrubs, gliding over the hospital’s bridge in the black of morning. Mom slurps steamy brash coffee in crisp Styrofoam cups as we zig-zag our way through the sleepy murmurs and faint flickering of morning sunlight, unfurling for a new day. Here, Mom busies herself like all the rest, thick comfy sneakers going plap plap plap against grimy linoleum, scrubs swishing mildly as she moves about. Odiferous tang of warm baby formula assaults my nose, and in the nursery, I rock fat newborns with thick black hair like bad toupees. Proud in my work stitching baby booties and winding monitor belts next to doors labeled Delivery. Rip-roaring screams and howls for mercy escape these rooms, and Shania is given a run for her money on the radio next to me as she croons about a man who is still the one.

Get to The Limetree Beach Resort in a flurry of frills, high as kites on summerdom. We own this beach, we own this land! Reuniting with #328, corner unit coaxing me home, with seashell adorned walls and ocean’s hum as morning’s wakeup call. Watch from the window, snapshot glimpses of volleyball games, lanky limbs jostling, sweet exchange of teasing and buffooneries. Shedding the coddle of my parent’s grasp, I meet them one by one: golden darlings with laughing eyes and curious smiles. Strangers on Lido no more: I dazzle in the shimmy of the sun and splendor of their embrace, the Iris of my life unraveling.

First tang of screwdriver swimming tartly through my veins. I bubble with pristine merriment of entwining myself among them, these teenagers of forever. It is bottomless cones of ice cream and slaphappy swims to the buoy, clack clack clacking of plastic cameras catching sight of us mermaids in the sand; such fools we are for thinking it will be like this always. In cozy burrows of the night we escape off lighted balconies to the dark below, mischievous mysteries, the stars our only witness. It is my first twist of heartache: his eyes of ocean so wild they crumble me like a fire poker to log of ash, and in efforts to gather what is left of myself I inevitably leave behind my soul.

It is all I know to pretend I am na├»ve about how these days, these days will die so fast it will one day take my breath away. Each second is stamped with the resolve of eternity, and I desperately crave to remember every grain of these days so scarce. I become animal of instinct, lewdly digging up the grave of years gone past but resolve with only scraps of memories. With the sorrow of a lost lover I capture these now only in tangible portrayals of picture albums, music and movies of a time when we prided ourselves on being invincible to the passage of such, fearing nothing when it all meant everything. They won’t all come back, surely not, but perhaps in a whisper of solitude and hallowing of grace can we be prided on remembering all that once was and now that remains.

--Salina R., Adult