“Smile for the camera, Mia,” he said, standing above me and laughing the whole way.
“Oh, alright, but only because you’re excited about your new camera,” I responded, sweeping my long brown hair to one side for the so-called candid picture. “You know, when you become a famous photographer you better not forget that I was your first model.”
“I don’t know how I could, my lady,” he said extending one hand out to me and helping me up from the sandy shore. Once I was up, he continued, “Besides, I think it will be hard to forget the world’s next prima ballerina.”
“Oh don’t be so silly. I don’t appreciate you toying with my dreams, you know.” My eyes lingered into his green stare and I couldn’t help but smile as I bashfully looked down. With an unforced giggle and an excited skip ahead of him, I asked, “But since we’re talking about it, can you look at this routine I’ve been working on and tell me what you think?”
I began my dance to the music of the ocean and I could feel his eyes looking at me in admiration. The sun’s heat surrounded me, while the sand on the shore brushed on and off my feet. The wind and my movements moved harmoniously and, from the corner of my eye, I could see Tony snapping away with his new Kodak camera. I had always loved dance, but it wasn’t until I danced for Tony that I found a real purpose for it. He was an audience worth truly performing for.
Suddenly we heard, “Mia! Tony! Come eat dinner” coming from the distance. It was my mother indirectly attempting to put our beach date to an end before the sun went down. Obeying the far-away sounds, Tony and I grabbed our blanket and shoes and began our walk toward the luxurious beach house ahead.
It was the summer of 1903 and our families were on vacation in the Hamptons, where they owned a couple of beach houses. My family’s home was purely wooden with a complete deck and a silhouette that reached three stories high. Gardens surrounded the sides of our home that were overflowing with white irises, orange lilies, and yellow rose bushes. In front of my all white home, sat my father’s all black Mercedes. It was shiny as ever, simply waiting to be shown off.
Tony’s home was not much different from mine. The biggest difference was that his family garden included blue sailors and his home was painted a pale yellow as opposed to our white. Our summer homes were next door to each other, just a few yards apart, which can be credited for my inevitable first encounter with Tony.
I was on my way back from the rocks about a mile down the shore from my parents’ property and I was just shy of my fourteenth birthday. My skin was just starting to bronze as it was only early June and the sun hadn’t yet had a proper chance to transform my shade. The ocean breeze freed my long hair, letting it blow up and down, side to side. In one hand, I held my shoes that I refused to get dirty from the sticky grains of sand and, with my other hand, I held up the hem of my dress.
My mind was wandering, ever-changing like the ocean water, when I noticed a pale dark-haired boy knee-deep in the rising tide. He looked like he was no more than sixteen years old (he was actually fifteen, at the time) and was too entranced by his lens to notice the real world. He was taking pictures of the waves, the birds, the sunset, and anything else he saw. With one turn through his lens, he saw me looking back. He raised his head and smiled, for the first time, showing me his bright green eyes and his white grin. It took nothing more than this simple gaze and a bashful hello to let us know that the summer was ours.
Our families quickly became friends, as well, and we were soon having dinner at each others houses every night. One night, my mother cooked for my family and our guests, while, the next night, his mother prepared the evening meal for the two homes. With the friendship between our parents, puppy love for us became all the more difficult to avoid and we saw no reason to fight it.
Throughout the day, Tony would snap away, never missing a potentially good image that we shared, while I was incapable of skipping around, twirling through the wind, or swinging my arms up and down as the excitement of being with Tony overwhelmed me to the point of needing to release it through dance. We took advantage of the early mornings to walk along the desolate beach, afternoons were spent sitting on the rocks that were barely visible from our homes, and sunsets were exclusively reserved for our most intimate conversations.
During one of these sunset talks, I experienced my first kiss with Tony. His green eyes met my dark eyes that looked back. One arm wrapped around my body keeping me close, while the other gently brought my face closer to his until we became one. The cold, moist sand that we were sitting on didn’t even matter after I felt how warm and soft his touch was.
He was my best friend, my advisor, my critic, my support. He told me the truth about everything and I did the same for him. Everything he said or did included me. Every plan I made and emotion I felt was because of Tony. We understood each other to the point where words were no longer necessary; however, we were young and it was puppy love. It was my first any kind of love and it was such an innocently pure relationship that was impossible to replace. That summer Tony was my everything as I was his.