warning: this is a very long story.
One summer, when I was a boy, my parents sent me to stay with my grandparents for the break. Raised in the pacific northwest, a small town in eastern Mississippi might as well have been an entirely different country for all I was concerned. The instant we got out of the airport I was struck with the oppressive humidity, and I became convinced right then and there that my parents downright despised me.
Of course, the reality was much kinder than that. My grandparents were good folks, and thankfully I met a girl within a few days of arrival, and we became fast friends. Her name was Jessie. A local girl with long blonde hair and green eyes – the first pair I’d ever encountered. I was in love at first sight. Jessie was a year or two older than me, but that didn’t matter much to us.