Oh, the glee of falling asleep, anticipating the precious gift of a whole extra hour. With a house full of people, my sister slept in my bedroom with me during her visit from Alaska and we were immediately transported, decades earlier, as she flung her leg over me, mid-sleep. Then she entered REM stage and the cacophony of snorts and sawed logs began. The sounds emanating from somewhere deep within her possessed a consistently rhythmic pace and no amount of poking, kicking, pushing or shaking affected it.
My iPhone clock read 1:59 AM and I watched it flip to 1:00 AM as though a large hand had reached down and hit the sixty-minute rewind button. The snoring continued. I looked upwards and said to a random higher power:
“Hey, I already did that hour. May I please have a different hour?”
So, I lay there, listening to the rumbling drums, reminiscing about our childhood. I thought about all the times she derived maximum pleasure over my embarrassments while pointing and laughing, (e.g., slipping on oil and falling on my ass in a movie theater parking lot while on a double date in high school had her doubled over in comic convulsions); her multiple and extremely unflattering Photoshop experiments at my expense that randomly appeared in picture frames around the house and were plastered on the sides of packages shipped across the country (a horrendous picture of my head on the body of a horse comes to mind); and, my personal favorite, intentionally picking fights with me so she could get them on tape.
Me: (clutching a five dollar bill) I’m going down to The Corner Store for Coke and a candy bar. Wanna come?
Her: (snatches the five out of my hand) Mine.
Me: Is not, give it back!
Me: It’s not yours. Give it.
Her: It’s mine now.
Me: You can’t—that’s not fair! It’s not yours!
Her: I want it, so it’s mine.
Me: GIVE IT BACK TO ME.
Me: GIVE IT BACK TO ME, NOW!!
Me: (tries to grab the bill)
Her: (runs from the room, smirking)
Me: (chases after her, grabbing at her hair)
Her: (runs into the bathroom, slamming and locking the door)
Me: BITCH! GIVE IT BACK!
Her: (through the keyhole in the door) Nu-uh.
Me: (pounds on the door) OPEN THE DAMN DOOR!!!!!
Me: (kicks the door until we hear it crack)
Her: You’re gonna get it.
I walked to the front door, opened and slammed it, creating the illusion I had left the house. After tip-toeing back to the bathroom and a few minutes of silence, she cautiously opened the door and I pounced. A scuffle ensued, consisting of slaps, scratches, punches, grunts and hair-pulling. And then she started laughing. Looking at me and laughing. And that’s when I knew.
We rewound the tape and listened repeatedly while rolling on the floor in hysterics. We wiped away guffaw-induced tears, clutched our sore abdominal muscles and she looked at me and said, “Now you have to be my slave or I’ll tell Mom and Dad you broke the bathroom door.”
A few months later, our family took our annual vacation to Juneau, Alaska to visit our grandparents. They loved hearing us play, but did not own a piano, so we made recordings from our living room of our latest endeavors to present to them upon arrival. The whole family sat in the dining room after dinner one night to listen to thirty minutes of Beethoven and Chopin until the cassette ended and the player automatically switched to the alternate side of the tape. Everyone quieted for more ivory tickling and then…
“Me: (clutching a five dollar bill) I’m going down to The Corner Store for Coke and a candy bar. Wanna come…?”
I walked my sister to her car yesterday and as we hugged goodbye, we clung to each other, the way sisters bonded for life do and I already felt the pain of her absence, knowing it would be months before we would laugh in one another’s presence again. Luckily, she has a great sense of humor, because payback’s a bitch: (Please press the play button)