For the Daily Post’s Weekly Challenge, I tried to write a little short story… the challenge was to “Write a new, original post based on any characters you wish, though the scene you share must include details that help the reader understand the setting: the precise time and place in which your scene happens.”
Dear Diary, (really? did I really just write “Dear Diary”? What am I, twelve?)
Well, In all fairness, it did begin when I was twelve, so I’m going to say that it’s ok to write that. Yes, I bought this cute little book with the intention of writing my “memoirs” but who am I kidding? That’s an awfully serious word for a person who isn’t really a writer. I tried to keep a journal for a little while, but I wasn’t very faithful to it. But now, today, I’m starting over. Because today, I feel inspired. I found this book about journalling that says old stories are strong stories. It says that sometimes, something will happen to make them re-surface. It could be an old song, or a smell, or even sometimes a letter or a class reunion. In my case, it was when Pam rented the condo down the block from me six months ago.
I was done with Pam. She hurt me, but I honestly got over most of that. Now, I’m a little bit angry. Because, seriously, What the heck??? If there is one thing I can’t stand, it’s when someone plays games with me. It’s why I prefer to work with guys. With a guy, if he’s a jerk you know he’s a jerk. But women always have to do this catty, “behind your back” stuff. It just gets old, that’s all.
So what happened, you wonder? Well, it began the summer my cousin Pam came to stay with us. I thought it would be the greatest thing, you know? I’d always wanted a sister my own age, and my brother really wasn’t that much fun. He only liked boy stuff, and he was so much older than me that he really wasn’t around much. After all, he had a car. He had a 1975 burnt orange Chevy Nova. Super cool.
Me, I was stuck with the old green bicycle. I didn’t mind so much, because it did have a basket on the front, and that was pretty cool. It also had a bell. I tied a purple ribbon on the basket for fun. That was the summer the first Muppet Movie came out, when “Rainbow Connection” was the best song in the whole world, and “Being Green” was not a bad thing to be.
Pam’s dad got an assignment overseas and her mom went with him. She didn’t want to keep track of a young girl in London, so Pam came to our house. I just knew we’d be best friends. I’d never seen my cousin much because she lived in Texas and we lived in New Mexico. Texas is really big, and back then plane tickets cost a lot of money. Not like now, when planes have become cattle cars with space auctioned off online to the lowest bidder.
Her hair was blond, and she wore it long and feathered like Farrah Fawcett. My hair was dark, and though I wanted to grow it long and parted in the middle like Cher, my mom had her hairdresser cut it into something she called a “shag.” It really was shaggy, too. I hated it then, because I thought it made me look like a boy. Looking back at the pictures, I still hate it. There’s the one of me and Pam both wearing our matching tee-shirts with the sparkly unicorn decals. Hers is hot pink, mine is purple. And here’s some of us at the county fair. Look, there we are in the desert heat, dust all over our flip-flops (we called them “thongs” then; nobody had any clue what that word would morph into!)
Here we are at Mrs. Begay’s Frybread stand. That was awesome. Not only is Navajo frybread the best treat ever, but her son Harold was hanging around her booth, and he was, well, dreamy. He brought some of his livestock to the fair. Harold had a really interesting family, very traditional and mysterious to us non-Navajo girls. I don’t think his Grandfather even spoke English. I am fairly certain that Harold knew what an advantage this was when it came to getting girls like Pam to talk to him. She talked about Harold all summer long.
That summer, I won a blue ribbon for the tiered skirt I made, but nobody noticed because Pam took Best in Show for her Gunne-Sax styled dress with all the lace trim. In one photo, we are wearing our creations, Pam with her Farrah Fawcett hair in that pastel blue dress. I admit, it was lovely. I am wearing my calico tiered skirt with a red t-shirt and I have somehow tied my shaggy hair into a pony-tail of sorts. For me, that wasn’t too bad, even standing next to my gorgeous cousin.
The two of us had a lot in common, and she really was like the sister I always dreamed of. That summer we got to be really close, and we liked all the same things. Sewing, riding our bikes (well, she got to ride my brother’s old red one, not as cool as mine, which we called “Kermit the Bike.”), reading as many books as we could, and singing in the church choir. She brought out a side of me that I didn’t know existed, and I loved it. I even forgave my mom for the haircut. We rode our bikes downtown to the movie theater every Friday afternoon when they showed a “classic” movie for a dollar for kids. Then we’d go to the 7-11 for a cherry slush on the way home. It was hot in July, that dry dusty heat that demanded icy drinks in the afternoons.
We took summer “enrichment” classes at the Civic center: art, drama, and tennis. They had high school students helping and we thought they were so cool, we could hardly wait to be in high school. My mom drove us there in the morning on her way to work, and we listened to her 8-track tapes in the car: Anne Murray, Neil Diamond, Simon and Garfunkel…I still can’t listen to “The Boxer” without expecting the click when the track changed.
But later that year, she wrote me that mean and spiteful letter, which contained her half of our friendship charm, and I cried for a long time. I didn’t know why she did it then, but now I know it had more to do with Harold Begay than with me. I got over it after a while, and moved on. I still loved all the things we did together, so I just found different people to do them with.
Then, a couple years later, Pam’s family moved into our town. Who knows, maybe she regretted cutting ties, but didn’t want to admit it. Our parents were furious with both of us and family get-togethers were absolute torture because we wouldn’t talk to each other.
She didn’t really know anyone, so she hovered around the fringes of my clubs, my group of friends, my classes. She spied on me, and passed notes about me to friends of my friends. She particularly wanted in on the movie-reviewing club. Now I realize that Harold was in that club, and what fourteen-year old girl doesn’t want the excuse of a club to go to the movies with a good-looking guy? I admit I didn’t mind at all! Anyway, it was a small group and with me there, she wouldn’t join. Instead, she started hanging out after school with two girls in the club and eventually she started a second club, taking about half of our group with her. (not Harold, however…that’s another story!) It was really awkward since she wouldn’t speak to me anymore, and I was miserable. That’s the first time I quit something I loved because of Pam, but it wasn’t the last.