Dani's parents are... Well...
Basically they're hippies.
This explains a lot about Dani.
Early on she knew how to spend time outdoors, everything from gardening to hiking.
At an early age she discovered a talent for climbing. Trees to begin with.
Rock faces not long after that..
A lot of parents would be horrified. "That's dangerous and she could get hurt!"
Like true hippies Dani's parents weren't big on what people aren't allowed to do.
Did we mention that Dani's mum was an engineer, and became that in an era when that was distinctly uncommon for women. Dani's dad was the artist. Same again for young men.
The conundrum here is that mum and dad were a pretty awesome partnership back in the day and thanks to some brilliant design work there are more than a few buildings and bridges (complete with community areas and parks) that Dani is familiar with indeed.
To put it bluntly, Dani's parents could afford to own... Well an awful lot of stuff!
They live in a modest house. The bulk of their clothes are second hand. No big screens, just lots of solar panels.
The car is expensive only because... Well Tesla’s aren’t that cheap yet I guess.
Between op-shop clothes, a modest lifestyle, and atypical gender roles, Dani doesn’t look at the world the same way many others do.
And now Dani has grown up in a world with a great deal of freedom and role models that make it very clear to her - the only limit on what you can do (or be) is you.
No one and nothing else can put limits on you.
Dani does ok in school. Actually she does better than that, especially in maths and science for that matter. Just because there's nothing you can't do doesn't mean that aren't some things you have to be and mom does have certain expectations here.
So besides freedom Dani also understands the concepts of having a sense of purpose in life and being self-sufficient.
She’s going to do what she wants and she does not need anyone to look after her.
Her parents do not disapprove of college.
Mum is disappointed that the degree is in philosophy.
Dad is perfectly happy.
College is also where she picks up a lot of other experiences, we’ll come back to that later...
There is one fright.
Dani has a few drinks at a party and ends up alone with a guy who has problems with the word “no”.
Dani isn’t afraid and starts making a lot of noise.
Others hear and the guy gets a forceful explanation on the English language from the boyfriend of her best friend (all-state middle linebacker).
Dani is shaken and upset.
She thinks about it and makes a conscious decision that she will not live in fear though.
She gets a few self defence lessons and knows to be more careful in future.
(Author’s side note here – it pisses me off that we spend more time asking women to be careful than we do teaching men to be not assholes)
When the cast is off Dani finds out she’s lost a lot of strength in that arm.
She needs to get that back before she can start back on the rock wall.
Lifting weights seems... She does it a bit. It’s really not for her.
The doctor suggests yoga?
Well that does really seem to be for her!
A lot of it comes naturally. Her flexibility improves (it was pretty awesome to begin with) and now she’s able to tackle some even tougher faces. Best of all you can do it outside!
That's how Jessica and Dani meet (find out about Jessica here).
Talking gets to laughing which gets to more talking.
And just like that a friendship is struck.
Jogging climbing together Dani asks Jessica if she'd like to learn yoga.
Jessica says sure.
And Dani asks what Jessica's first sport is.
"You mean like WWE?"
No. Not like WWE.
Easier to show...
Dani likes this too, even if it's not outside.
So starting off Dani’s game comes a long way really, really fast.
And with her flexibility and conditioning from rock climbing and yoga her bottom game is amazing. In no time at all even Jessica is struggling to pass from Dani’s guard.
Perhaps Dani’s one shortcoming is that she’s... Well timid isn’t the right word. It’s just that her defence when grappling is way ahead of her offense.
But if she does get your back and get her hooks in... Well you may want to consider getting comfortable because you won't be going anyplace soon.
And forget punching or kicking. She’s happy just to roll.
And because they are friends and because they hang at the gym and outside they occasionally hang inside with a glass of wine or a beer even.
And it’s after a couple of those drinks one night when Jessica looks at Dani in a way that she hasn’t before.
Dani recognises the look.
Like I said, she experienced a few things in college.
So when Jessica holds of Dani’s face and leans in Dani isn’t surprised.
When Jessica leans back her look is a little more stricken.
Dani laughs and jumps Jessica, bringing their mouths together again. This time it’s Dani who pulls back.
“Sorry Jess. I’ve tried it. If you want it that bad I can do some stuff. I simply prefer guys. Please tell me we’re still ok to be mates?”
Jessica doesn't want it so bad that she's willing to ask that of a friend. Instead the question is “Did you know?”
Dani laughs. “How much time have we spent on the mats?
Yeah I figured that one out pretty early. So long as you’re ok it’s not me, I’m ok that it is you.”
So they remain friends, probably better than before even.
One day in the gym Dani notices Jacelyn and then she notices Jessica looking at Jacelyn.
“Why are you looking at her like that?”
Startled at an unexpected question Jessica stammers. “Oh she's a bitch and I don’t like her.”
Dani smiles... “No. That wasn't that look.”
Jessica is a bit embarrassed. Dani's joke that Jess like’s them buxom makes her face flush.
Jacelyn groans... “Me and my big goddamned mouth was putting crap on your girlfriend earlier and now I’m going to get the crap kicked out of me.”
Maybe it’s poor form, but sometimes you gotta help a friend out.
So Dani whispers into Jacelyn’s ear.
“She’s angry. She's not a bitch. If you don’t put up much of a fight she won’t be able to bring herself to hurt you."
Jacelyn looks at Dani forlornly. Really?
"Yes really. Oh and if you ask her out after she’ll say yes.”
Jacelyn’s eyes widen.
"I know how she looks at you when she thinks no one is watching. I also know how you look at her when you think no one is watching."
You can find out how that one ended here.
Dani and Jessica are still very much good friends.
So much so that Dani likes to joke about where Jessica’s girlfriend is ever upset by the amount of time she spends with her other girlfriend.