Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hey Sis

Remember Eddie Jakeworth.  And the hot spot.  How did we get there?  We must have paddled across the lake and met him at the store.  That’s why you let me tag along.  You needed me to paddle in the front, as one way or the other, you’d be heading into the wind. 

Remember the hot spot.  That perfectly secluded circle of dunes up the inlet to the lake.  You could only get there in a canoe. Hot, hidden, and secret, it was easy to get sunburned there. Eddie had a, Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront, kind of good looks, at least to me, a hooked nose and a compact boxer’s build. He was a townie with a rough charm and a hint of danger. For you, I think he was a stand-in for your big crush on Chris McClean, the Scarsdale boy from the summer camp. A handsome Holden Caulfield with a cool  irony, loafers without socks and all the rest.

I am certain you were the main attraction.  I was just along to paddle the canoe. I can’t remember if Eddie had cigarettes, but I bet he did and in my mind.s eye, they are rolled up in the sleeve of his t-shirt, just like in the movies. So I hung around; to swim, look for crayfish, get sunburned, smoking one of Eddie’s cigarettes, a fifth wheel. Trying hard not to be a pest. And then, out of the blue, Eddie kissed me…me.  I was dazzled.  I guess he figured he was man enough for the two of us or I was ready to be kissed.  Who knows.  I was past words, swooning. And he kissed me again. And there in my head it felt like a thunderclap. You were unimpressed, I think you hardly noticed.

It was a relief to paddle home, rhythmic and monotonous, almost a meditation.  Dinner went by in a haze and next I remember sitting in the upstairs window in the evening, smoking one of grandma’s long cigarette butts I had scavenged earlier in the day, hoping not to be caught at it, reclining in the window in the memory of that kiss.  I think you were out in the canoe, paddling by the boy’s camp.  The wind was gone, the lake like glass. You had moved on.

I doubt we ever talked about that day at the hot spot. To you it wasn't particularly important and not something you would talk to your little sister about.  Too me it was something so brand new, I didn't even know how to describe it to myself. And so I never said a word about it.

So here I am fifty years later, watering the roof garden, muttering my question to you, hey sis, do you remember? The sun is not quite up and I am talking to the same stars we watched  drifting on the lake in the canoe, in August; counting shooting stars. No one else remembers that day. No one knows the whole story.   You, me, and Eddie Jakeworth were the only ones there in that hot spot, that day.

Lala and Professor Laurita are not here.  No one here knows them. They are up there cruising the stars looking for you.  I would like to hear your voice now, telling me how you remember that day. Memory or imagination, I will never know. But the pictures are still vivid to me, alive in my head.

I’m guessing for you, it would be different. Maybe you wouldn't remember it at all. I wonder if you could still feel that hot sand and those kisses that tasted of cigarettes. I can. But I am the only one here 50 years later, watering my garden, tears in my eyes, talking to the stars. Looking for you.

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