I grew up in a town called Toms River in central New Jersey (my girlfriend thinks it’s south, but I’m not sold on that), home of 90,000 people. Among these 90,000, I had a core group of 5 friends growing up. We’d sit in streets talking for hours, stay up late playing video games, set things on fire – the usual dude stuff. Laugh together but never cry-in-front-of-each-other together; we were a strictly Y chromosome type group. We’d always walk to school together.
Then we met Raina.
Raina grew up a block from me in the epicenter of the neighborhood in which boys terrorized and was thrown straight into the mix. She took to us well, and in time, began walking to school with us. Tom and I began trekking to school one morning, when passing Raina’s house, deemed she was ‘taking too long’ to get ready and left on our journey without her.
Amongst the buzzing and whirring of cars on Old Freehold Road, the faithful and straightforward way to get to high school in the morning, we took notice of a car that appeared to be slowing down. It was Raina and her mother.
Under both of our breaths, as if Tom and I knew what we were in for, we both mumbled a faint “oh shit.”
“You guys are REAL DECENT,” Raina’s mother yelled before accelerating back to a safe 45 miles per hour. We finished our walk to school with our heads hung a bit lower than usual that morning.
Raina instantly forgave us and we may have even walked home together from school that afternoon. Her mother forgave us, too.
Years went by of floating in and out of touch, college and a career seems to have that effect on people. She met Dustin during this time and although I’ve known him not nearly as long, he’s an insanely great guy and I’ll be forever envious of his beard growing ability. Raina’s had Waldo, her horse, since I’ve known her and when I brought up the idea of visiting him on her wedding day, she couldn’t say no.
Many thanks to Brandon Rodkewitz for second shooting. Some of his shots are in the mix.