There isn’t a lot about being an adult that lives up to our childhood expectations.
But one thing – which would be to my serious childhood amazement – is my relationship with my sister.
When we were little we didn’t exactly have the best sister relationship. She liked to boss me around.
Take, for example, our 3-month road trips that Mom and Dad thought were a good idea.
It appears to have been temporarily rubbed off in this photo, but we had a masking tape stripe down the exact middle of the Bronco’s back seat. And our deal was that if either of us crossed over the line without express permission, the other one got to smack the offender.
I got hit a lot more than Emily did, and my memory is that she hit a lot harder than I did. I secretly didn’t like to hit her all that much, but I’m not sure she can say the same.
But by the early 90’s, Emily could drive, so she had a whole new value to me – and apparently to Mom and Dad, too.
As soon as she could drive, you see, they were free to leave in September and go off to the lands where they liked to fish when the fishing was good.
So at least as I remember it, in 1991, they left around the time that school started, given that Emily could now drive us there and all. They figured they would be gone for about seven weeks, so they left us a check for $150 for each of the seven weeks.
I remember getting a call in the first two weeks from the bank that our check had bounced. We had zero idea what to do about that. We remember explaining that our parents were gone, so this would have to wait until they got back. Thankfully, that was back in the old days in a small town, and somehow the bank figured out how to make it ok, which probably involved a call to Dad’s secretary.
And then there was the time that Dick and Chris had their Labor Day party and invited us. (In hindsight, perhaps that was an excuse and they were actually trying to make sure we were still ok. They watched out for us like that.) Our wheels – Dad’s gold Oldsmobile Toronado – were almost out of gas, and we weren’t sure that we could make it there and back.
Anyway, back to our gas tank problem and Dick and Chris’s party… Maybe not a problem to you – but we grew up with Pete. As far as we understood it, when you needed gas, you went to Pete’s and he did something outside the car while Sissy washed the windshield, and then they had you sign something and you were good to go. I always LOVED talking to Sissy. Sissy liked to talk as much as I do.
But since it was Labor Day, Pete was closed … thus our problem. I distinctly remember the conversation Emily and I had – we were pretty sure that we could get to Dick and Chris’s with the gas we had left. And we were still fairly sure (though a little less so) that someone there would know how to put gas in our car and would help us.
We felt like real adults making real adult decisions on real adult problems. And it worked out – though I don’t remember who helped us figure out that the gas tank was behind the license plate on the back bumper. I just remember that we didn’t run out of gas. (Though I do remember sometime later when we accidentally left the lights on and we had to call Pete to ask if he could come help us with the battery. I think we even made it to school that day and everything.)
In hindsight, all of the adults who knew us must have just been shaking their heads. Also in hindsight, I’m a little surprised that somebody didn’t call child protective services about the 16 and 14 year old that were seemingly on their own for almost two months… But hey, again, it was a small town in the 90’s. Mom and Dad called in from a pay phone every week or so when they could to check in on us – and we got to talk when we were there to pick up the call and weren’t already on the phone. So as far as we were concerned, it was all just fine.
Anyway, I digress…
Emily and I have loved and hated one another for decades. I remember when she left me and went to college – I mean, she totally abandoned me. It was awful. So I’d go visit her in Boulder on the weekends. She’d let me stay in her dorm and go to parties and to calculus class on Mondays with her and everything.
And then I went to Boulder, too. And for our respective way too many years there, we had an on-again off-again relationship. In hindsight, it was on-again until we decided to try living together again, at which point it was off-again until the lease expried and some time had passed.
In the last ten years, while we’ve always lived in fairly close proximity to one another, we didn’t get together all that much, and when we did, it was only for a few hours. That changed when she started spending time in France and Switzerland, and on a whim, I decided to crash their vacation. I mean, remember See you tomorrow – in Switzerland!?
That started an annual tradition until, well, she did the most un-Em like thing ever and spontaneously moved to France on a whim. Which, really, has been the best decision she ever made, if I do say so myself. I wrote about that in Roots and Vines. (And yes, France sadly still might as well be the moon as far as Dad is concerned.)
I’ve absolutely loved going to visit Emily and Chris. But stupid Covid has put a serious kink in the way things are supposed to work. Until I woke up to a text message just before Thanksgiving:
So I had to scramble to get her room ready, since at the end of her last visit, I seem to remember some unfavorable comment about the mattress in the room I make up special just for her. Talk about Princess and the Pea and all… Do you know how hard it is to get a new mattress when you’re given a week’s notice – over the Thanksgiving holiday – in the time of Covid – even if I am nice to my UPS guy? And not just any mattress – but one that is firm enough, since they’re accustomed to that and all now. All right, Goldilocks…
I’m digressing again… So Gus and I got all rested up so that we would have lots of energy when Emily arrived.
And all was going great until she got delayed in Denver because they decided to close air traffic control because somebody got Covid two weeks earlier… Seriously?!
But because my sister IS an international traveler (inside joke…), it all worked out and I picked her up at the bustling Vail/Eagle airport.
There might have been a tear or two from us. But then we got to work making the most of our 10 days together. The start of our hilarious time together was when we were eating our PB&Js for lunch on her first day here. Everything was normal until we both realized at the same time that we eat our sandwiches the EXACT SAME WAY.
Then we got to work decorating the Christmas tree, and Gus helped us.
And on Sunday, we took a big trip to Glenwood. One of things Emily wanted while she was here was donuts – and supposedly, a place in Glenwood has the best donuts in Colorado, but, well, not really. But that might be due to the fact that the kid at the counter gave us nothing in the way of what we really ordered. His default was a croughnut – no matter what you pointed at and said that you would like, he put a croughnut in the box. It wasn’t worth the energy…
After croughnuts, we decided to go to Marshalls. Emily knows that I’m the cheapest person ever while she is, well, not. But I knew that I had successfully converted her when we were standing in the loungewear section looking at shapeless, elastic-waisted pants and she holds up a pair and declares, “These are nice!” And we busted out laughing, because, well, lets admit it, there is nothing “nice” about a $5.99 pair of lounge pants from Marshalls. Ah, adulthood… We WhatsApp’d Chris to see if he wanted us to buy him the Santa-themed onesie for $17.99, but it didn’t have feet, so he passed.
We came home full of sugar and caffeine and found music that took us right back to our glory days. I mean, Hungry Eyes!!!!
We tried to video us singing, but apparently we messed that up…
And at night, we watched movies. (Emily made me spring for the Amazon rental fee – like money grows on trees around here or something…) They just don’t make movies like they did in the late 80’s and early 90’s! I mean, Dirty Dancing, Pretty Woman and Ghost! We hit all the highlights.
We laughed about how Mr. and Mrs. Findley let us watch Pretty Woman while they were our responsible adults on the 1990 Ride the Rockies. We got to see it in the theater and everything! Thank goodness for the Findleys – they were one of the handful of hopes that Em and I had of understanding life outside the Baker house.
And some nights, we worked on a puzzle that Emily gave me for Christmas – and Leo even came out of the closet to help us!
And as were doing puzzles, we re-discovered a love for Heart and Roxette. We agree that both are very under-appreciated artists these days.
We accidentaly burned our pizzas on Em’s last night here because we had Tiffany turned up really loud and were singing and we didn’t hear the timer go off until it was too late. Oops.
But going back to that depressing reality of adult life, all good things must come to an end. We made the best of the time we had left and listened to the Top Gun soundtrack really loud as we drove the 8 minutes to the airport, in my just-waxed, perfectly clean, M-package black sapphire BMW with the heated steering wheel and heated seats. We both drive nice cars – some might argue that we are compensating for the trauma of the Toronado…
Now, for those of you that remember the title of this blog, Em and I leave you with this scene from Dirty Dancing – one of the best scenes from any movie, ever, really.
As you sing it to yourself all day, you can thank us. You’re welcome. We’ll try to do it again soon.