Saturday, September 20, 2008

two for one (post #1)

someone's having a birthday today (whether she likes it or not)!


where to begin with jamie beth? riding her big wheel naked down the middle of our quiet street when she was three? putting lipstick on the cat? thinking of jamie as a little girl, i remember awesome haircuts with a questionable taste in music. or is that the other way around?

speaking of memory, i've got pretty good recall. my memory goes back a ways, maybe back as far as two years old, though closer to three than two. i have some clear memories of life before my sister jamie was born. i remember talking with my mom about jamie being born, how she was in her belly and was going to come out. i remember mommy's lap getting smaller and smaller at our house in exeter, nh. as a precursor and premonition to the births of both ashley and seth (which we've already covered here), i was enthused over the impending birth of my little sister. i have no idea what it was in any of those cases, but in each one i earnestly looked forward to their arrivals, and jamie beth was the beginning of that trend.

she had a lot of hair!

did you say i only get half the x-mas presents now? thump. 'wahhhhhhhh!'

the happy family, circa '77.

she was kind of... funny looking, at least in the beginning. she cleaned up nice, though.

i don't have too many memories of us as a pair when she was real small. i think i mostly went on my merry way, except when we were being herded into olan mills to be tortur- er, have our portraits taken.

just let her sleep, for crying out loud!

what a cutie...

jamie and nudity were best friends when she was little. i have two distinct memories of this union. one is the story of my mom receiving a phone call from a concerned neighbor: 'did you know that your daughter is riding her big wheel down the middle of the street, completely naked?'

the second is from when i was eight, making jamie about four. we had a house in the woods with a huge back yard, and built onto the back of the house was a second story deck with stairs that led to the ground. my friend gene and i were playing in the yard when all of a sudden there was the sound of the screen door to the deck sliding open with a crash. we looked up in time to see jamie, completely naked and soaking wet, fly down the stairs to the yard, my mom close behind carrying a towel and yelling for jamie to stop, stop! although it was years before the technology was created, i like to remember this one in matrix-style slo-mo film:

gene and i stand completely still. i have a look of utter disinterest on my face. i look up from the hole we're digging long enough to register the scene. then, i go back to digging. gene stands completely agog, seeing a naked girl for the first time (he had an older brother), mouth open in a raucous smile of surprise, all wet lips and crooked teeth (he was a drooler, if memory serves). jamie runs a complete circuit of the outer yard, water streaming from her body, a smile on her face but something else as well... determination perhaps? she's moving ata good clip and she's thinking of a way to get a second lap out of this, but my mom has now locked in on her and closes fast. she's grabbed and wrapped in the towel by my mom, and as time snaps back to the rapid regular pace we're accustomed to, gene's voice echoes in my ears as i dig.

"your sister's naked!"

this is jamie with her doll, joey. she also had a doll she named vagina. as if that wasn't enough, there's a funny story that goes along with that:

it's me, jamie, and my mom in line to check out at the supermarket. my mom is pushing the cart with jamie riding in the seat. i'm at my mom's side. a little old lady pulls up beside us.

old lady: aren't you the cutest little thing (or something similar)! and look, you have your dolly with you! what's your dolly's name?

jamie: vagina!

old lady: excuse me?

jamie: vagina! you know, like- [motions to her crotch]

old lady: oh.

me: [tugging on mom's pant leg]- i didn't know jamie could speak spanish!

she also once asked santa clause for a penis, 'like my brother has!' you would think since she wanted one of her own she would have been nicer to mine, but once when i was starting to pee standing up she walked in on me, took one look at what i was doing, and dropped the toilet seat down on me. a few days later, while taking a bath together, she told me she wanted to marry me. and these two instances sum up quite nicely the dynamic we have lived with our entire lives. hot and cold, love and hate.

i lost more goddamn star wars figures in that woodpile behind us. it just always looked like such a cool place to make the rebel base. all those nooks and crannies, just like rice krispies. except it was more like a roach motel for toys, where they went in and never came out. that's our dog in the middle. his name was zeke, and he was our first pet. if you play the game of making your porn star name out of the name of your first pet and the name of the street you lived on, jamie and i could be zeke bootyfarm. no lie.

jamie and i spent a lot of time together in the early years. there were plenty of kids in the neighborhood and we each had our own crowd, but when you're in the house by six, and in your pajamas by seven, you make fast friends of anyone around. but we genuinely enjoyed playing together. whenever she wasn't attempting to nefariously destroy my boy bits, that is. jeeze.

the beach was a big part of our childhood, and to this day i think jamie could stay in the water, well, all day. coming out only for the promise of ice cream.

there's nothing 'sweet' about our thunder.

there's no leak, she just slept with her umbrella for a while. oh, like you've never climbed into bed with your umbrella. whatever.

great story about the day we took this photo. again, dragged to olin mills for some dumb photo shoot. my mom lets me pick the shirt i'm going to wear, probably as a compromise, as long as it's within reason. so i pick the shirt i'm going to wear, which is black, with blue sleeves. you may be able to see that along the shoulders is a row of silver buttons that were actually snaps. either mom didn't buy this shirt, or she had forgotten this fact. so we get to the 'studio' and it's our turn to go in. well, i need to get ready for my picture, so i start snapping the sleeves off of my shirt. i got one whole sleeve off before she caught me. and she flipped out. jamie waited patiently for me to finish being pissed about putting the pythons away, and then put on her pretty face. i had to rally cuz' no way was she going to show me up. million dollar smile, keep the change. i still think it would have looked tougher without the sleeves.

this is jbeth right before she sets the record for youngest base jump in north america. for those of you that don't know, base jumping is like skydiving, only it's done from stationary objects such as radio towers, sky scrapers, cliffs, and bridges. just look at her- nothing but confidence.

in one of the previous posts i had writen that jamie and i had a complicated relationship. in the beginning we were best buddies. we played together, often had sleepovers in each other's rooms, read together, watched our favorite tv shows together... she wanted to be around me, and i wanted someone to follow me around. we moved to connecticut the summer i started fourth grade. jamie was starting first grade and we would be walking to the same school. her classroom was at one end of the school and mine was at the other. every morning, holding hands, i would walk her to the door of her classroom and we would hug and give each other a peck on the cheek before going our separate ways for the day. then, each afternoon, we would meet at the door and go home together.

i'm sure this went on for at least the first year, maybe the second as well. but somewhere after that, somewhere in there, we started to separate. i don't want to say that we grew apart, because i think that the issue was actually growing into each other. we were under each other's skin, in each other's faces... it got to the point where we couldn't be left alone for fear we would do serious harm to each other. i remember kicking her in the mouth once and making it bleed. another time she hit me with the phone across the face and i couldn't form words for ten minutes. we had the most intense, knock down, drag out fights you can imagine. and probably some you can't imagine. we chased each other with knives. and one time, we had one of those fights where she started it, and as i began my retaliation (entirely justified) my mom came home and caught me. i of course got yelled at, threatened with punishment, while jamie smirked out of reach. i got so mad i was getting the shaft that i just started screaming at my mom. as i yelled, i heard my voice start to move far away from me, and my vision began to tunnel and darken. i was so mad i was passing out from the exertion.

we just couldn't leave each other in peace. this lasted really until i was about eighteen. the summer i graduated from high school i moved out of the house to live at our dad's house. i was working third shift at the supermarket next door to where he lived so it made sense. drive twenty-five minutes or walk two. easy peasy. and wouldn't you know, once we weren't living on top of each other, things cleared up between us. there wasn't any definitive moment of reconcilliation or anything. just a gradual re-acquantice and acceptance of one another. when we were little our dad used to say that we should learn to get along because some day all we would have is each other. i used to laugh in his face when he said that. well, as much as you can laugh in someone's face, but actually be doing it behind their back.

but y'know, parents have this annoying way of knowing more than kids do, and he was right. god, i hope he's not reading this.

she's so pretty.

and she's always been generous and willing to share. as kids we'd buy penny candies and long after mine were gone, she'd bring out her stash and re-divide what she had left for the two of us. thanks for all those cavities, little sister.

jamie and me in our roles as elder statespeople of the clan. just lookit' them rowdy youngins'. you can dress 'em up, but you cain't take 'em anywheres.

so by now, you may have noticed that a lot of this post, while celebrating jamie, is also about me. there's a reason for that. the reason is this: i'm awesome. just kidding, the real reason is because so much of my life has been about having her around. before jamie, i was me. but after jamie, i was me. i didn't really have anything to measure up against before she came along. and by came along i don't just mean her birth, but really the maturing process she's gone through to get to where she is. we've grown up together and i like to think that we are the people we are because of the emulation and rejection of one of us to the other. i think that who i am is responsible for her being who she is, and vice versa. now, i'm not saying i can take credit for anything; i never had to tell her what the cool music was, or who wrote the good books, etc. in fact, to this day, i think she has pretty dreadful taste. not my fault. just sayin'.

but we're definitely two peas in a pod, as our dad likes to say. thanks for being the other pea, jamie beth. it would have been a awful lonely pod without you.

and thanks for being the best auntie #1 to beatrix marie.
i love you, happy birthday!

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