Anthony Zambrano is out with his wife and kids on the 4th of July. As he watches his older daughter with her boyfriend, he is reminded of his own days as a kid. He thinks back to his teenage years, and tells his wife a story. The story of his childhood, the story of what made him the man he is today, and the story of a girl who changed his life forever. Based both on a true story and on true events. Rated for language and situations.
I turn to see my youngest daughter running towards me, waving her arms in excitement.
"Daddy, look!" she exclaims, pointing at the sky towards the other end of the beach. "Fireworks!"
"I know," I say, chuckling as I give her a hug.
"Aren't they cool?" she squeals, running back down towards the dark waves that gently crash into the sand.
It's the Fourth of July, and our family had decided to spend it at Long Beach, across from the Queen Mary. There aren't that many people on the beach itself, but then again, there's a reason we didn't spend it at Santa Monica Pier. It's a cool summer night, upper 60's, I'd say, and the night is as clear as it could ever be in Southern California. Out in the distance, my oh-so-hyper 10-year-old daughter, Ursula, runs around in shorts and a tank top, hoping to get a better view of the fireworks on display from near the Queen Mary. I laugh at how cute she is, and then sit down on the roof of my car, a black BMW that I bought at a local car lot when I was 19. It's old, and it was old when I bought it, but over the years I've fixed it up enough to keep it running and in good condition, so it still looks and runs like new. As I sit there on my old car, I take a deep breath of the salty ocean air, hold it, then slowly exhale.
I look around to find my older daughter, Barbara, whom I see is rolling her eyes at her little sister's naivety. I inwardly laugh, knowing that I was once like that with my two younger sisters. Oh, how she reminds me of my younger self…at least, the non-destructive and rebellious half anyway.
As I watch her, I notice that her boyfriend, sitting next to her on the sand, carefully and slowly puts his arm around her shoulder and looks back at me in fear that I won't approve. I quietly chuckle and nod at him. He smiles at me and turns back to her. Barbara then turns to me, smiles, and mouths "Thank you, Dad." I nod again and look up at the dark sky, searching for the few stars we can see in the night sky.
"They're cute, aren't they?"
I turn and see the mother of my two daughters, sitting up behind me on the hood of the car. I look at her for a moment, studying her dark eyes, then look back at Barbara and her boyfriend.
"Yeah," I say quietly, looking back at her. "They are."
"Remind you of anything?" she asks, smirking.
"Yeah…" I say nostalgically. "A lot of things."
She taps the hood with her hand, inviting me to join her. "Yeah. Me too."
As I join her there, I lay down, staring up at the night sky again. As I do so, I feel my eyes begin to close, longing to envision the memories that the image of my daughter and her beau have stirred in my mind. I feel my wife lay back down on the hood, and I have a sneaking feeling that she's closing her eyes and doing the same.
As I lay there, I slowly drift into memories of my own teenage years, a time where my rebellion was only calmed by one person. A person like…no other. A girl, who changed my life as I could never have imagined possible. This girl was nothing like anything I had ever known. All the actions I went through, the elaborate plans I devised, the games I played, and the "rules" I had created to get girls to fall for me had completely backfired. She threw all those things out the window and had her own agenda when it came to my plans. I was sixteen. I didn't want to be "in love" or anything. I just wanted to have fun. I never expected a girl to have a counter to my tricks, but that was what I got.
But then again, I never expected a girl to be so much like me in the way that she was. I sure as hell didn't intend to fall for her, but apparently I did, and she for me.
Don't get me wrong. By sixteen, I had already had a first love. But this girl…she wasn't just a love or anything…she was something else...something completely different. Something I could never forget, nor would I want to. To tell you the truth...I couldn't forget her if I tried.
As I remember her, I play with the wedding band on my finger, smiling. My wife and I both have had our share of loves in the past, and they say some never go away. Guess they're right, whoever "they" are.
"Tell me what you're thinking."
I open my eyes and turn to my wife. "What I'm thinking?"
"Yeah," she says, opening her eyes and turning to me, a smile on her face.
I take a deep breath, and then look down towards Barbara and her boyfriend. "Thinking about what they remind me of."
She turned her body completely towards mine, then scooted close to me and into my left arm. "Do I know the story?"
"Yeah, by heart now," I chuckle.
She smirks at me. "Tell me," she says.
"You're gonna get bored," I warn, laughing.
"Tell me," she says, still smirking.