Still, seeing yet another summer fire in the Everglades, it immediately made me think about how I met Nokosee and how my life quickly changed from a high school party girl working weekends at the local Hot Topic to making the FBI's Most Wanted List before the end of summer vacation.
After all, it was an Everglades fire that brought Nokosee and me together. If you read my books you know my dad, the "Great White Park Ranger" of the Everglades thought it would be a good idea to bring me along with his fire-fighting crew to put out an Everglades fire. Figured it would build character in me since, apparently, I didn't have any. I was 17, just graduated from high school, and spending the last divorce court ordered summer with my old man in a place that seemed perpetually on fire. Despite my heated objections to his cockamame plan, I soon found myself helicoptered out into the middle of nowhere and dropped off in the center of a raging fire with dad and the rest of the firefighters. Within seconds I was engulfed in smoke and ash. Within minutes I was lost. When I heard the chopper rising into the smoke covered sky, I knew I was in deeper shit than anyone had a right to be. Dad says he thought I had climbed on board, thought the guy coughing his lungs out in the back was me. A few hours later, after stumbling through sawgrass and fire and nearly getting eaten by an alligator, Nokosee found me. He was on a "Walkabout," something his equally nutcase dad had dreamed up. Borrowing the idea from a movie he saw, Busimanolotome was making his son traverse the burning Everglades-- barefoot, mind you-- to discover "The Outside." Before he got there, he discovered me, the first white person he had ever seen. Well, the rest is history. We fell in love by the time we stumbled through one adventure after another before finally stumbling into The Outside, a Miccosukee tourist trap along the Tamiami Trail. Within a few hours of "coming home," my new boyfriend had broken dad's nose in a fist fight and mom had shot him in the arm. With cops on our tails and Nokosee with a bullet wound, we hightailed it back into the Everglades. And then, well, I chickened out. No matter how much I loved Nokosee, I wasn't ready to shuck all The Outside had to offer and so, like the the spoiled and shallow child I was back then, I turned away.
And immediately regretted it. I never cried so hard or hated myself so much.
It wasn't until I got back home to Milltown, NJ, that I discovered I was pregnant. And had to get back to Nokosee.
Yeah, so Everglades fires never fail to trigger my thoughts on how it all began.