We had braces on our teeth at the same time. We both liked roller skating and cats and shirts with rainbows reaching across our flat chests from one elbow to the other. Your hair was fine and blonde and mine fine and dark. We both spent long hours in front of the mirror coaxing these fine strands around the hot barrel of a curling iron. We longed for wings. Not the wings of an angel, but the wings of Farrah Fawcett.
Your older sister liked The Police and some band called Oingo Boingo, but we always shouted at her to close her door, leaning closer to the radio to listen to a station that billed itself as "the music of your life." We waited to hear Nat King Cole sing "Dance, Ballerina, Dance."
In typing class, we typed notes to each other and later went home and typed more notes. I remember sitting in front of the pink manual typewriter my mother used in high school writing a letter to you one line at a time. I cut the whole thing into strips, rolled each strip into a tiny tube and securing each tube with one of the rubber bands I was given by my orthodontist. When I was finished, I dumped all the little tiny parcels into a big envelope and slipped it to you before school. It must have taken you forever to piece the letter back together, but you did.
We spent hours and hours on the floor of my bedroom with the radio on, drawing paper dolls. All the dolls had fabulous names like Viveca, Amber, Violet and Tiffany. They had teeny, tiny waists and huge social schedules. We drew ball gowns and riding habits, feathered headdresses and elegant beaded pantsuits that Carol Burnett might wear.
Every Christmas your parents would invite me over to decorate the tree. Your family always had a big tree in the living room and you got to have your own, smaller tree in your bedroom. Your personal tree was covered with ornaments you had been given every year by your grandparents and your parents. It was a tradition.
Your mom was the fire chief and sometimes when I'd spend the night at your house, the phone would ring and we'd hear her car crunch over the gravel in the driveway. Every year, you and your dad would shovel this driveway. It was also a tradition.
You had a checkbook in sixth grade and decided to play the French horn because it was the hardest instrument to learn. You read Moby Dick before ninth grade and could play Fur Elise on the piano. (That always impressed me. ) By our senior year of high school, you were at the top of our class. You spoke French and Russian.
I gave up clarinet (one of the easiest instrument to learn,) skipped all the whaling chapters, and know only enough French to get coffee and a croissant.
When we graduated from high school, you asked your parents to buy you a strand of pearls instead of a Hopi squash blossom necklace. You went to college back east and now you live back east. You knew who you were.
I missed your first wedding with the big dress and the Cinderella carriage, but I imagine it a little like the ones we planned for our paper dolls. I made the trip to celebrate your second marriage. Children from your Sunday school class sat in the balcony of church and watched you walk down the aisle.
You have your own children now and I like to imagine what the holiday is like for the two of them. Do they each have their own tree? It's a tradition. Thank you for sharing it with me.
Hoping that our trips home to the Land of Enchantment will overlap soon.