3: Young Amor

Life's little joys were finding me again in the small hands and big giggles of my nieces and nephew, Dallis, Sydney, and Jack.

I admired being witness to Dallis modeling for her younger siblings; Sydney doting on her baby brother; and Jack quickly growing into the biggest little man of the clan. Together they were powerful and protected.

Corpus Christi summers gave us the only needed excuse to soak up plenty of sun. Whether I was chasing racing tricycles through the apartment complex or tossing small, human, cannons in the pool, we wasted no time to steal some summer fun.

If I close my eyes, I can bring forward the memories enough to see the smiles, hear the laughs, and feel the embraces of my babies--these three were my first babies.

Happiness has this attractive force to it. People want to get close to it. It pulls you in and wraps around you, shedding worries and fears. So as I was rediscovering my happiness, others were noticing this growing light within me.

In all the time we spent exploring outside, it's no wonder that I came to be acquainted with the small community that was our apartment complex. Almost seemingly overnight, one acquaintance became my first young love.

Dressed in all white, he came and went each day with his usual group of pals piled in a van. There was Luis, Edely, some others I can't quite recall... and Rodolfo.

Most of his compadres understood very little English, so I got along with the whole team by speaking Spanish. I still can't quite tell you how Rodolfo, Roy, swept me off my feet--is that the inexplicable part of love?

"Te amo y te quiero" came quickly, as it does when you're young and uninhibited. He spoke with such desire in the present, hope for the future, and care and consideration for the kids. We knew each other's families and even rendezvoused a few times across the border when he went home to Mexico.

Many years and subsequent romances have since passed, but he will always be the only man who shared with me the care for sweet Sydney.