Summer days in the Florida Keys were always warm and breezy. It never seemed to be too hot, as there was always a nice wind coming from the bay and the ocean. For three years, I was a local, and it was the most magical three years of my life.
I roamed the byways on my pink bike, exploring every nook and cranny of Key Largo with wild abandon. I would leave my house around eight each morning, find a friend or two to come with me, and we would create a plan of action for the day. Finding our way to the local hotel pools, until we were booted out, since we weren’t guests and not allowed to swim there. We didn’t care, we did it every day without fail. Why not? We could swim at each hotel for an hour or so until security caught on. Once we ran out of hotels, we would make our way to the ocean.
The path was mostly coral, so it was rough on our bare feet. It didn’t matter, we carefully trod down the coral path and walked into the water, carelessly leaving our bikes on the side of the road. It was the late 80’s-early 90’s, we were immortal and fearless! There was a bridge, the “hump-back” bridge, where those of us who were really brave, would jump from it into the bay waters. The waters underneath were fairly shallow, but as preteens, the thought that we could get seriously injured was not even remotely there. Again, we were immortal. We were young, tanned, and thought we were beautiful, and most of all, free. It is the last time I felt that way.
One particular summer, the summer of 1991, I will never forget. It was bittersweet. I had lost my Dad that April, and was mourning him deeply, but also knew this was my last summer with the friends I was closest to. I was torn. I decided that my Dad wouldn’t want me to spend my last summer in the place I loved more than any other place I had ever lived closed up in my room. So, I lived.
Oh man, did I live.
My friends had so many amazing things planned for us to do. One friend’s Dad had a Zodiac that he allowed us to take out into the ocean. There were four of us, and we went out for an entire day, floating around wherever we wanted to go, singing current songs from the radio, talking about everything, What stands out the most to me from that day, was all four of us singing, “More Than Words”, in perfect harmony to one another.
Now I’ve tried to talk to you and make you understand
All you have to do is close your eyes
And just reach out your hands and touch me
Hold me close don’t ever let me go
More than words is all I ever needed you to show
Then you wouldn’t have to say that you love me
’Cause I’d already know
To this day, 27 years later, I can see and hear all of us perfectly. I still tear up every single time I listen to that song. Friendships like that are once in a lifetime. I spent three years in a beautiful place, with amazing people who took me in as family, and I’ll never forget that. I was going through a horrible time at home dealing with my Dad’s mental illness and eventual suicide. Having so many people in my life who genuinely cared and who were there for me means more to me than I can ever express in words.