Once upon a time I was going through a bit of stress and dropped ten pounds in a week. Woohoo, I thought, skinny! I celebrated by buying a pair of Levi jeans in a size impossible to imagine today.
Looking back, I didn’t look good. I looked anorexic—sort of like an old-fashioned kitchen matchstick: really skinny with a tuft of red hair on the top. This is not a good look on anyone.
Life balanced out and I began to eat again and returned to my usual size. Shortly after I grew back into me, Seester went into one of her crazy freak out exercise phases and poof, her body disappeared. The jeans went to her. You can’t trash a pair of Levis, you know? They have to be completely worn out, frayed edges, blown out knees–in other words–totally destroyed before they leave the closet.
Seester wore them for some time until she got off her excessive exercise kick and went back to her normal weight. Where did the jeans go?
Neither of us cared until, I went on a crazy fitness kick and started exercising and even though my weight was the same, it got rearranged until I thought: Hm, I’ll bet I can fit that impossibly small pair of skinny Levis. Off to Seester’s house I went. “Where are The Jeans?” I asked. “What Jeans?” Seester answered, “I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.”
My niece was barely an adolescent at this time. I distinctly remember who the level-headed adult was as this casual inquiry became the biggest fight in a long history of major battles between us. I mean, this beat out when I threw a hairbrush at her down ten feet of hallway, narrowly missing a mirror; or her whacking me a good one with a very wet, very heavy washcloth. Again, I ask: How did our parents not give one or both of us away?
The fight ensued and every single unsaid complaint we’d harbored against the other flung around the kitchen along with the aroma from the coffee we had been enjoying. The words bounced off the house walls–made of huge logs, they shuddered against the interior pine walls—damaging their soft blonde color. They hit against the cupboards and dropped with solid clunks upon the flagstone floors.
We exploded with exchanges that should have been shared in childhood. With tirades over things that happened as teens (she stole my boyfriend and I kept my side of the room like a pig sty to irritate her military tidiness). We moved onto who knows what conflicts we had in adulthood when we rarely hung out together and barely knew each other.
It was, as they say in the legends, a battle of epic proportions.
All the while, dear niece stood between us, calmly, dispassionately looking back and forth and wondering what was going on with these two normally fun-loving women and was she really related to them?
Then, something happened. I wish I could tell you who said what, and what it was we said that became the pivotal point. But twenty-some years later, I’d be making it up, because I’ve no memory of the words.
As niece was getting thoroughly disgusted with the “grown-ups” in the room, it happened. One of us laughed. I’m going to say me because even with my red-hair, I was always the one to laugh first when we were kids and fighting—back then because it would aggravate Seester even more. This time I think the flame in me had died and I was suddenly realizing how much I loved this person.
For Seester? I think she purged everything she wanted to say to her troubling kid sister for thirty-some years and the angst whoofed out of her in one big swoop.
We started laughing and laughing and laughed until we were crying. We met in the middle of the kitchen and held onto each other and laughed until tears were running down our faces. Jenny looked at her Mom and her aunt, firmly and accurately stated: “You two are weird,” and stomped off to find someone saner to hang out with.
Sometime later, the jeans resurrected. I fit them for a while, Seester fit them for a while. Back and forth they continued to go.
I left Red Lodge to move to Pittsburgh. It wasn’t until I unpacked for about the third move that I found the jeans stuffed in a box I’d never opened. I knew exactly what I was going to do with them. Goodwill? Ebay? No way. I grabbed a marker and wrote down one entire leg.
A trip to visit Seester in Montana, and I snuck into Seester’s bedroom and tucked the jeans into her closet.
The next time I visited, the jeans were hanging on the back of the door to my room. More words.
Somehow other words got added on and they got hung in her bathroom when I left.
They disappeared for a trip or two. When I took my life-sabbatical, the jeans were the first thing I saw when I opened a dresser drawer. I howled at the new note from Seester. When I left six months later, the jeans had room for one more note down one more leg.
Life battles with people we love are vital. We don’t have to be mean or self-serving in these clashes, but we have to clear the air, let a breeze blow through and make sure we aren’t harboring thirty years’ worth of ill will one to the other. We have to let the accumulated conflicts out into the universe so that they can float away from us and we’re free to love more deeply and unconditionally than we ever thought possible.
Here’s to Seester—my BFF and the love of my life–the other half that makes me whole.
See Post by Seester:
As I get ready for another trip to visit Seester and the other lunatics, I realized that The Jeans were missing when I was there last month. How sad! Will they make an appearance next time? I’ll keep you posted.