Nine o’clock, the morning of my 16th birthday, the doorbell rang. “Jenny, your friends are here,” my mom yelled. “Wake up!”
I stumbled out of the room, confused and disoriented. Carrie and Jessica stood in the living room dressed in bathing suits. “Get ready, Jen,” said Carrie. “We’re taking you somewhere special for your big day.”
Ten minutes later we were on our way to Crystal River for a day of tubing. The water was swift and cold. Turtles and snakebirds poked their heads through the surface. Manatees nuzzled against our bodies.