Chapter Five: Three Sisters
I often wonder if those moments of elation that I often feel when outside looking onto a bucolic field stem from memories from my childhood spent with my parents and my sisters. It’s almost as though my soul existence lives for those moments.
Perhaps it was that we always lived in isolated places that bonded we three sisters, Melanie, Michele and I, so tightly together, or maybe it was our desire to escape our Harold’s thunderous roar, but one thing was, and still is for certain, my sisters have always been my everything, breaking trail to make life easier for me as I was growing up.
My eldest sister a.k.a Melanie-Mouse, only three years older than me, was always taking care of me. In high school, if there was a Jillian spotting between classes, she and her popular gang of friends would rush over to me to embrace me with bear hugs and delicately run their fingers over my cheeks to see if Melanie was right about how soft they were. She ruined me that Melanie-Mouse, making me feel so adored. One can’t possibly live up to that reputation all their lives…. but one can certainly try.
Like the most playful of kittens, we three sisters couldn’t stay away from each other, pawing at each other one second and scratching and pulling each other’s hair out the next. We tumbled through life intertwined with one another, always playing, always wrestling. We were not of the computer/cell phone generation and so everything we did, we did to its fullest.
But life wasn’t always charming. Being the third child, I was placed in the worst and coldest room in the house that was situated above the garage. A dark back staircase led to the kitchen. My only comfort was that I could hear my mother cleaning the dishes as I fell asleep, which led me to yell out a litany of things she had to do in order for me to actually drift off, “don’t go in the den (too far away from me), don’t turn the lights off, kiss me good-night again before you are finished” …. the list got longer as I grew into a toddler … and shorter as my high school boyfriend began to sneak into my window from the sloping roof.
It was scary back there in my little room but to get to my parents room I had to choose either to traipse through Melanie’s bedroom that connected me to the other side of the house, or travel down that dark back stairway with a Narnia-like closet at the top (all of our closets were Narnia-Like, some felt more villainous than others).
Depending on Melanie’s mood, who became a teen-ager way too early, that hallway door was not always open to me, and so I often lay in bed staring at the darkest closet of all, my own. With an imagination as vast as those fields I longed to run through, that closet brought on recurring nightmares of its door slamming open and dragging me violently in to an evil vortex, tossing me about in the darkness asking me “how ya like that? and that?” A dream that lasted well into my adult years and that only stopped when the house, and the hill it stood on, was leveled by new owners.
On those dark days when Melanie’s door would close me out to the safe part of the house, I’d summon up the courage to knock. She’d trepidatiously open the door to find me in my footsie pajamas, thumb in mouth, curly hair wildly spilling out in all directions, demanding passage, a Swiss Army Knife in my hand as my sword. And then she’d slam the door in my cute little cherubic face and there I’d be left standing alone in the darkness. Just me and the sharp-toothed beasts that waited to pounce on me inside the stairway closet, just a hairs-breadth away.
All would be fine in the mornings though when I’d awake to find myself uneaten with the sun streaming through my windows and the birds chirping outside. The mornings were the antithesis of the nights, warm, safe and my own haven, where I’d spend oodles of time alone letting my imagination go dancing wildly to my 45 records, spending time on my CB radio, or playing with the barbie dolls I so wanted to look like. When not playing inside, most of our time was spent hanging and swinging off the boughs of our favorite tree and climbing its branches to the tippy top to see the world outside of the one we knew so well. It was safe under that massive pine, and our go-to place when we weren’t playing flashlight tag at night with all the rough boys of the neighborhood or launching off of the sand-dunes that eventually also got leveled and developed. We chased stars and boys with the fireflies until the dinner bell rang summoning us to come home.
Like many Baby Boomers, our childhood was pretty unattended by our parents. Other than that horrifying “Stranger Danger” movie that traumatized us all for life, and pictures of missing children on milk cartons, parents seemed to have had less to worry about back then, and my sisters became quite independent at an early age. Not me though, as the youngest of three it was my sisters who took care of me, holding my hand and pulling me along with them on all of their adventures, and saving my life when I would do silly things like skate straight into the thawed icy waters of the pond in the back woods of our house. I remember well being so happy to be included with the big kids and skating in my secret woods and dreamily not being able to hockey stop before plunging into the frozen water. With my skates and water-logged clothes dragging me down from the breaking ice that I was trying to get a grasp onto, I didn’t despair, trusting my sisters would save me. And they did. When left to their own devices kids can be quite resourceful and at my middle sister’s demand, they quickly formed a chain by all holding hands and pulled my dead weight out of the water. Sneaking me to my room we left puddles of footprints up that back staircase (which started to become more and more useful as I got older and into more trouble). “Silly girls,” my parents admonished with no questions asked when they found the heap of wet clothes entangled with the tornado of a mess that was my bedroom.
To deepen the bonds and our loyalty to one another, we became blood sisters, pricking our thumbs with pins and blending the blood together. We were forever sworn to secrecy and we never defied that trust. Never. Not even when our favorite cat Nike was entrapped under a box filled with pot smoke to see how he would react at one of the many parties that were thrown at our house on those weekends when my father coerced my mother to go off on romantic escapades without us. My sisters were left behind with a wad of cash, the keys to the BMW and little instructions to take care of their little sister.