Sister

Scene:  North Seattle.  Summer afternoon.  Hotter than normal.  Sister in the driver’s seat, driving.  Me in the passenger’s seat, navigating.  Six-foot-one Dad tucked into the back seat of his own car.  A brand new white Subaru.

Dad, looking out his window at a man on a bench: “That man’s homeless and he’s selling a homeless newspaper!”

Me: “Dad, you know that your window is down, right?  And that you’re shouting?”

Dad: “What?!  Oh.”

Sister and Me: laughing

A few minutes later into the drive, Dad starts making weird Dad Sounds, harumphing and argh-ing and ack-ack-ing.

(I look at Sister), Sister: “Are you okay, Dad?”

Dad: “Yeah.”

Me: “‘Cause you’re making some weird sounds.  You’re making weird sounds.  I didn’t realize you were so old, suddenly.”

Dad: laughs and cough-chokes a little bit.  Some of his long Old Man ear hair gets all tangled up in the open-window wind.

*******************************

Sister was born with a smile.  And green hair.

“My hair is not green!” she has shouted at me for years, every time that I bring it up.

But, it is.

Her first picture, that picture taken in those first moments of life, shows Sister with a big smile, knowing eyes, and green hair.

Her hair had a green hue to it.

It was totally green.

******************************

Our parents split up when I was sixteen, just about a month or so before I turned seventeen, and they bought the third car for me.  Surely, then, it was a wonderful gift.  Of course.  Obviously.  It was a white soft-top Jeep Wrangler with grey interior.  And, it was a way for me to drive Sister around after Dad moved to Hollywood and while Mom went back to school and worked two jobs.

“You’re … going to drive me to school in your robe?” she asked.  Gorgeous green eyes showing some serious concern, no-longer-green-but-blonde hair parted down the middle, a backpack slung upon her back, wearing a pair of white 501s, Sister asked, “really?”

“You want to go to school or not?”

I tucked my robe belt around my waist, hopped up into the top-less Wrangler, started the engine, and said, “Let’s go,” picking the sleep out of my eyes and smoothing my hair down.

****************************

In 1992 and 1993, Sister and I drove everywhere together.  The Wrangler only had an AM radio and so we hijacked a portable, yellow tape player from the backyard and Sister held onto it, playing DJ and flipping tapes over, rewinding, fast-forwarding, as I navigated and shifted through mountain passes all the way into the Hollywood Hills, driving along Sunset Boulevard, parallel to the freeway.  Nirvana’s “Nevermind” blared out of that yellow Sony and I shifted up, up, up to ‘Lithium’ through Bel Air, catching the 405 North to go home when we were feeling hungry.  The wind caught her hair and she held onto the yellow music box and when I looked at her, in between bad left turns and California Rolls at stop signs, she smiled.  Always.  And she sang a lot.  Sister sang along to ‘Lithium’ at the top of her lungs, winding through the hills. Clutching that music.  I promised her, without her knowing, that she’d never have to actually, really feel all of that.  That big piece was for me to feel.  Not her.  That piece was for me.  She sang.  I drove.  Sister smiled and sang into the wind.

I drive.

***************************”

Laughing, “Sister, roll down your window.  It’s hot!”

And so I do.

Dad fans himself dramatically in the backseat: “Hot!” he declares.

Me: “Dad, it’s July.”

Dad: “Hooottttt!”, fanning himself frantically.

Seattle in July and August is hot to people who live in Seattle.  Sister laughs about this: “You’re so tan!,” I say to her.  “I just came from Mexico!” she says.  “And I live in SoCal!” she laughs.

The car is parked.

The wind picks up.

Sister laughs as we move to cross the street.

Sister laughs, so beautiful.

I hold my hand out somewhere near my hip to make sure traffic stops when we step into the WALK.

Sister links her arm into Dad’s arm and crosses the street.

Sisters

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