Connections

My sisters and I never saw eye to eye; rather we heard heart to heart through our telephone receivers.  We lived a good distance away for most of our lives.  And so our connections, close as they were, were nearly always via long distance calls.

The ear pieces on the phone grew increasingly warm and comforting with each laugh, each tease and each word we spoke.  We spent hours on the phone, twisting the curly, stretched cord around our body parts, spilling out our hearts and our triumphs and our woes.  But there is no record, no evidence, and sadly fewer clear recollections.

So I made up some memories.

*     *     *

I began to question the wisdom of this trip as soon as the line went dead.

The call Thursday night was unexpected.  Sam and Dave – customers from the burger joint I’d worked in back home — had tracked me down in Boston.  I’d left home six months earlier, and was surprised that the guys had found me.  They had said they were in Boston often and promised to look me up – but so had a lot of people.

Six months away from home hadn’t been nearly as fun as I expected my “coming of age” to be.   I hesitated to admit that I was lonely and would love some company.  But I hadn’t even thought about Sam and Dave – forgotten them, in fact.  Well, I barely knew them to begin with.  Sam was tall, blond, nice smile.  A well done hamburger with fries; Dave was shorter with shaggy brown hair that he often pulled back.  He liked his cheeseburger rare with onion rings.  Both drank Coke.  One of them drove my favorite car, a 1974 Datsun 240Z.  Blue.

“Great, we’ll pick you up Saturday at 10,” one of them said.  Was it Dave?  He and Sam were on separate extensions and kept finishing each other’s sentences like an old married couple.

“Yeah, Steve gave us the address along with your number.   See you Saturday!” said the other – Sam, I guessed.  And then they hung up.

They didn’t leave a number so I couldn’t call them back.  For that matter, they didn’t leave their last names.  First names, a car (cool as it was) and burger preferences.  That was all I knew.  Yet I had just agreed to spend the weekend with them at the Cape.

At only 19, I hadn’t done too many stupid things with guys yet.  So I called my older sister, Judy, 24, who had.

“This is ridiculous,” I told Judy, pacing back and forth across my tiny apartment like a bobcat in the zoo. “I can’t possibly go.  I don’t know who they are.  And I can’t possibly call them back – they didn’t leave their number.  They didn’t leave their last names.  They didn’t even tell me where I just agreed to go.   God, this has all the makings of a Hitchcock picture.”

“Are you Tippi Hedren or Janet Leigh?”  Jude roared at her own joke.  “You’ve known these two cute guys for three years and never went out with them?  Either of them?  Or both of them – together?” she teased.  “God you’re boring.  You’d be Doris Day in a Hitchcock movie.”

“I’m just going to have to talk to them when they get here on Saturday.”

“Ok,” said Jude, swallowing her laugh. “You’ll talk to them on Saturday.  Good plan,” she burst out again, “especially because you can’t talk with them before that because you didn’t get their number,” she said, gasping for breath.

I began to relax.  Somehow, when I told my troubles to Judy, they stopped being problems and became situation comedy.

“You’re a huge help.  I’ll call you back next time I need abuse.”

“Anytime,” Judy said, hanging up.

I spent Friday at work bouncing between laughing and worrying.  I didn’t pack.  Of course I wouldn’t go with them – I didn’t even know their last names!

At 10 am Saturday the doorbell rang.  “Shit.”

“We’re here,” Dave or Sam said through the intercom system.  Another reason not to go – I couldn’t keep them straight.  I buzzed them in, and took a deep breath.  I still didn’t know what to do.

Did it take an hour for them to climb the two flights or were they upstairs in a flash?  Suddenly I felt queasy.  “Oh God,” I thought as I shut the bathroom door, “what would Judy do?”  I sat on the toilet for the longest time, trying not to panic.  At last, I smiled, shrugged and said “oh, what the hell.”  I walked back into the main room and said “I’m not quite done packing, but I’ll be just a minute.”

I threw a bathing suit, a change of clothes, and a couple of other things in a backpack.  “There’s just one thing,” I said, smiling at my dates,  “I’d love to drive the Z.”

*     *     *

Me, Judy, and Beth, a while ago

 

*****

This is a reposting.  Today would have been my sister Judy’s Earth Day Birthday.  I wish I could call her up and give her grief.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFy7-XuCN2w

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86 Comments

Filed under Adult Traumas, Birthday, Family, Health and Medicine, History, Taking Care of Each Other

86 responses to “Connections

  1. Twindaddy

    Happy birthday, Judy.

  2. How nice that you two could share so much. Sounds like she was the Laverne to your Shirley. But hopefully the two men weren’t Lenny and Squiggy… ;)

    (Jeez, I really dated myself with that reference.)

  3. It’s good to see you happy. I wish I had a sister to share those moments with.

  4. Family like that is great! (from a distance.)
    I feel the same way about my sisters.

    Happy birthday, Judy. Thanks for raising your sister so well.

    • You are right about that, Guap! We didn’t get along at all when we shared the same room! But sisters are wonderful.

      But I’m pretty sure Jude didn’t raise me — she mostly raised hell.

  5. Eva

    Happy Birthday, Judy. Your little sis is the best.

  6. Luanne

    Happy birthday, Judy. I’m so sorry for your loss, Elyse. She sounds like a hilarious, fun, and smart person. You’re so lucky to have had her for a sister.

  7. Ah Elyse, you tell such vivid stories. Thanks for sharing parts of your life. But like what happened after? Did you drive the Z? Were the guys okay?

  8. Hugs to you Elyse <3 <3 <3 Lovely read for your sister's Earth Day :D

  9. I loved this part the most:
    At only 19, I hadn’t done too many stupid things with guys yet. So I called my older sister, Judy, 24, who had.

    • Thanks Chicklette. That’s one of my favorites of all the things I’ve ever written. It just sums up our relationship at that point in time!

  10. I am way too sensitive to read posts this sweet… sniff…

  11. funny, lovely, warm sister story. happysad birthday

  12. A wonderful remembrance of Judy and a wonderful way to honor her birthday!

  13. Paul

    Happy Birthday Judy. It must have been great to have sisters to help you navigate life.Happy Earth Day Elyse.

    • Sisters are wonderful, actually. When you don’t want to kill them. I swear there is nobody who can make you as mad as your sisters — not even your spouse or kids!

  14. 1jaded1

    Happy Birthday, Judy. Elyse, your story cracked me up!

  15. Elyse – a wonderful story and I’m sure Judy is still laughing somewhere. If anything, she’d be the first to remind you that you’re the one still getting old – how was the weekend anyway?

    • Yes, I’m sure that wherever Jude is, she is laughing at me. (Bitch will never get old, either, which is decidedly unfair).

      The story is fictionalized. I really am a Doris Day type — they did track me down; they did invite me. But I didn’t go. And I never heard from the guys again!

  16. Stories like this show me what I missed out on by having only brothers. It’s good to tell these stories, and I am sorry for your loss… I hope that thinking through good memories offers some level of peace.

    • Stories like this show me what I missed out on by having only brothers. It’s good to tell these stories, and I am sorry for your loss… I hope that thinking through good memories offers some level of peace.
      who people not phone?

    • I have both (2 of each) and the relationships are different. But I wouldn’t trade my brothers, either. They rarely push my buttons the way both of my sisters did!

      Writing helps with the losses a whole lot, actually. Since this is fictionalized, I had a blast writing it — I got to have a conversation with her again. And importantly, she could say anything I wanted her to say — hardly true when she was around.

  17. Birthday, schmirthday. WHAT HAPPENED? If I catch either of my daughters doing something like this I’ll lock them in the basement until they’re 32. It’ll be for their own good.

    • Actually, nothing happened. The story is fictionalized. I really am a Doris Day type — they did track me down; they did invite me. But I didn’t go.

      I was a good girl, and a broke girl. One important lesson I learned from my mother is never go anywhere with a man if you don’t have money to get back home. (It is a very good advice to have girls keep “mad money” as my mom called it.)

      And I never heard from the guys again! Which would have made my father happy had I ever told HIM this story!

        • I will simply take it as a compliment to my writing that you forgot that I made it up. That’ll save both our prides!

          • I love it that even though you told us up front that it was largely fictionalized, or at best, blurred memories, that we all went along for the ride, hook, line, and sinker. Yep, that does speak exactly to your ability to write with conviction, and keep it interesting. Feel free to make up the version where you go and have a wild time, and then feel free to share it with your readers. Even if we know it’s all fiction, we’ll still buy into it. Because you’re THAT good. Really. :-)

            • You know, 99, I’ve actually wanted to do a sisters book. But I always feel like my heart is ripped out when I try to, so I don’t. Someday … but as I said, because I didn’t really pay attention to what we were talking about, I don’t have the actual stories. So I have to make them up. Fewer hurt feelings that way, I’m thinking!

  18. I was thinking the same thing as Exile! My daughter had better not ever say “what the hell” to a situation like that. Ha! Thanks for the laugh, Elyse and I’m sorry you’re missing your sister today.

    • Thanks, Darls, Since you were thinking the same thing as Exile, I’m going to give you the same answer:

      The story is fictionalized. I really am a Doris Day type — they did track me down; they did invite me. But I didn’t go.

      I was a good girl, and a broke girl. One important lesson I learned from my mother is never go anywhere with a man if you don’t have the money to get back home. (It is a very good advice to have girls keep “mad money” as my mom called it.)

      And I never heard from the guys again! Which would have made my father happy had I ever told HIM this story!

      But I will confess, I’ve always wondered what would have happened had I gone!

  19. It’s not bad being the Doris Day in a Hitchcock movie because she would likely survive. You are planning on divulging more about this trip, yes?

    • Doris Day always lived, but I will admit that she was kind of dull. Then again, I wasn’t very adventurous where men were concerned.

      And the story is mostly made up. They found me and invited me, but I was Doris and didn’t go. I’ve always wondered.

      But maybe I’ll make it up. what the hell.

      So assume I had a blast and didn’t do any three-somes.

  20. I remember your Earth Day tribute to her last year. I love this line “I began to relax. Somehow, when I told my troubles to Judy, they stopped being problems and became situation comedy.” So many facets in our relationships that when all polished up as you wrote here make wonderful memories. Happy Birthday to your sister, Judy.

    • Thanks, Georgette. I think that is the quality of Judy’s that I miss most. No matter how bleak things were (and they were for both of us more often than I’d like to remember), she could laugh at anything — and she would step outside of herself and see the situation as if on TV. I can often find the humor but not always.

  21. <3

    Hard to miss those we love. Happy Birthday to Judy <3

    This is a wonderful memory of your sister. Someday you will need to tell the rest of the story.

    • It is hard, isn’t it Val? Sucks the big one as it were!

      But there is no rest of the story. Not really. Because it’s fiction. Or mostly fiction. The guys DID call me and invite me to the Cape, but I didn’t go. I was a good girl, and a broke girl. One important lesson I learned from my mother is never go anywhere with a man if you don’t have money to get back home. My mother was smarter than the average bear!

  22. It’s wonderful to remember Judy with a nice story. The relationship between sisters can be difficult to explain and often runs a gambit of emotions. Like you, it is hard to remember what are real memories and what are…let’s just say…embellished.

    • The funny thing about it, Michelle, is that I really felt like I spent time with her while I wrote it. I laughed and cried and wanted to kill her — just like a normal conversation with her!

      But this isn’t a memory at all — it’s made up. I mean, I did move to Boston, and I did get a call from these two guys inviting me for the weekend at the Cape. But the rest is made up. Except for Judy’s attitude. That’s exactly how she would have/perhaps did react when I told her of the invitation. I mean, after all, my imagination isn’t really that great. Is it?

  23. A good story Elyse. Glad you have fond memories of your sister to hold onto.

    • Thanks. I DO have great memories of her. I also have memories of all the times I wanted to throttle her — which were numerous! She was as wonderful as she was frustrating. And her eldest child, my niece, is one of my very closest friends. So I’ve got that going for me…

  24. good grief, girl … you’re killing me. did you really have to add the Beatles soundtrack? that song always makes me want to weep, but now? well, now I’ll probably never hear it again without thinking about your sister, and by default, thinking of you. which, of course, will make me smile.

    happy birthday, Judy. you are obviously missed.

    BTW, this part was comic genius: “At only 19, I hadn’t done too many stupid things with guys yet. So I called my older sister, Judy, 24, who had.”

    • 99 you are so very sweet. Sorry to make you cry. I actually think of that as a happy song — whenever I hear it on my way to work I have a good day. My Jude looks after me, I’m thinking. (Although word press doesn’t — what is the problem with inserting actual videos in posts? No matter whether I click on the YouTube thingy or the URL thingy, I get a line and not a video. It’s ticking me off!)

      Thank you for pointing out that line. You know how there are a small number of little bits of writing that just feel right? That is one of mine. It is exactly how I felt about her at that time in our relationship. Come to think of it, it’s still pretty true!

      Now, I see you were commenting on the comments. I’m off to see what that bodes!

  25. Good tribute …. and peace to you on this day.

  26. Happy birthday to Judy!
    You know, you could get one of those “WWJD” (“what would Judy do?” stickers for your car. :)

    • As she got older, Jude’s wildness grew. Towards the end I of her life, since she always asked my advice and NEVER took it, I recommended to Judy that she think of what she should do in any given situation AND THEN DO THE OPPOSITE. Alas she never ever listened to me.

  27. Happy birthday to Judy. It’s so easy to see her and know her in some of your writing, so she indeed lives on, in and between your pages.

  28. Those birthdays are hard to get through sometimes. Keeping a good thought for you.

    • Thanks, Renee. Some years are easier than others. But people who think anyone gets over a profound loss has never tried. You get beyond, as you know, but the hole in your heart is there.

  29. I never wanted a sister…was happy one never arrived. Reading this, I regret I don’t.

    • They are odd relationships, Addie. I loved both of my sisters and would give 10 years to have them around just for an afternoon. But they also always made me consider homicide!

      I hope that you have some close women friends who make you laugh and scream!

  30. Hi Elyse. Your writing made me think of a poem I posted a while back. My mother was one of three sisters on a farm in IL during the depression. I’ll see if I can get it in here. You write with great heart. tusk http://tuscanfire.com/2013/03/12/my-old-aunts-play-canasta-in-a-snow-storm/

Play nice, please.

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