Three weeks after my sister got married, I found myself kneeling on the floor of a Crate & Barrel in Northern Virginia inspecting stacks and stacks of her new dinnerware for imperfections. It was the week after Christmas and the store was a mess. The economy had officially hit rock bottom, and eager shoppers were throwing elbows to take advantage of after-Christmas sales the likes of which the world had never seen the likes of which before.
Elizabeth handed me a box of dishes then pushed her way through the half-crazed mob of suburban shoppers to talk to someone about a pillow that, I think, was missing a sequin. Or to see if she could find an ornament that was sold out online that worked with the color scheme of next year's Christmas tree. Or to find a microplane. I can't remember which it was. Was it all three?
I sat down on the hardwood floor behind one of the busy customer service kiosks and started unwrapping porcelain bowls in a warm-y halo of designer overhead light. I call that rich people lighting. The girls behind the register had been notified of the situation, and I was conveniently camped out in close proximity so they wouldn't (couldn't) forget about me.
I don't like being assertive in stores, but my last sister had just gotten married and I felt that the universe owed us this. Me, my sister, my immediate family, my extended family, and all the generations up and down both sides of our family tree. Amen.
'These need to go back. There's a bubble in the glaze. Can you see it?'
'The edge is slightly warped on this one.'
'This color isn't consistent on this one, and look, this one is basically gray, when you look at it in this (rich people) light. See?'
Then we went to Williams-Sonoma (more rich people lighting), where shoppers were tracking in so much slush from the wintry sidewalks that the manager was spreading rock salt on the floors.
And I couldn't get over how funny it was to find rock salt inside, especially on the fancy hardwoods floors of Williams-Sonoma. My walk over to the display of pricey waffle mixes sounded like, 'Crunch, crunch, crunch.' People were looking over $500 copper pots while standing in cold, brown puddles of slush-y water.
I thought that was so funny, and I still do. Crunch, crunch, crunch.
I moved to DC 965 days ago. On the 960th day Elizaben drove out of town to become residents of the poor man's California, where The Doctor will start his new job.
I cried, I can't lie. I've been here for almost three years, and Elizaben has played a decent role in my life during that time. I spent every major holiday with them. They invited me over for Sunday dinners. They took me shopping. Elizabeth brought me medicine and Gatorade on the many and multiple occasions that I got sick. She cleaned the trashcan I threw-up in. Benny Boy answered my various and sundry medical questions. We had conversations about things I don't get to talk to other people about, or things that I don't want to talk to other people about (religion, politics...)
And now, they be gone.
Every time I part with my sister I feel like we haven't said enough. But, I know I'll always feel that way. I think part of that feeling is a yearning for the way things were, but...
Over the past year I've come to realize, though I always knew it, that our childhood is officially over. Over, and carried a long way off on the cool and salty breezes of a thousand summer evenings. We don't live together anymore, everyone has a separate life, and we can't go back.
I think we're all fated to spend the rest of our lives coming to grips with that fact. How can so few years have such a hold on the multitude of years to come? I don't know, but they do. Sometimes I wish I could go back and relive just one of our happy moments together. We used to play Indians in our backyard and make soups out of weeds and twigs and hose water. I wish I could go back to that time for just a moment, before we grew up and grew into our own lives, and stop playing for a second and say, 'I love you. IloveyouIloveyouIloveyou. Loveyouloveyou. I always will. Don't ever forget.'