Tuesday, May 17, 2005


I have many childhood memories of spending time with my cousin Rachel. Rachel isn't actually my cousin. Her mom and my mom know each other. My mom dated her mom's brother when I was very young, and her mom's mom "adopted" us. That is how Rachel became my cousin.

Rachel and I didn't get along. In fact, we quite possibly hated each other. This became apparent in the way that we tormented each other whenever in each other's presence in a way that only children really know how to do.

Her grandma, who was my adoptive grandma, was very nice. So was her grandpa. The whole family for that matter, and they always included me, even though I wasn't actually their relative. So Rachel and I were stuck with each other. We tolerated each other. We secretly found ways to sting each other.

I remember one that at one of Rachel's slumber parties she had whined that she didn't want me there. Because she couldn't make me go away, I was the subject of torment for the duration of the night.

Little girls are ruthless, and slumber parties are not always parties, but opportunities to show how mean you can be. Trust me.

Rachel pretty much got everything she wanted...

Rachel wanted the same hair cut as me, so we went to the salon. I watched on as Rachel's beautiful long blond hair was chopped off. I didn't say a word. The stylist hacked it off, it looked nothing like my hairstyle...I genuinely felt bad as her bright blue eyes glared at me accusingly. But in retrospect I know it wasn't my fault.

Rachel had a horrible little dog named Max. I hated Max. Max liked to hump things...including my foot. Wretched dog. This is probably why I didn't like dogs. I especially don't like male dogs...and I didn't like Max the foot humping poodle AT ALL.

Rachel did everything...soccer, softball, ballet. She went to parochial school. She was pretty, and she was popular. She had a boyfriend who was nice. She got everything that she wanted. Her mom and her step dad were very nice and fun. That is why I liked going to her house. That and she had a trampoline.

Rachel and I were obviously very competitive with one another, even though I was never really the victor on anything. I was not cute, or coordinated. I was not popular or petite. In fact next to Rachel I felt like a big ugly ogre with warts. And yes, I had warts...so that didn't do anything for my self image.

We went ice skating on the lake one afternoon. Her grandmother had a house on the lake, so we spent a lot of time either wading in the mucky lake water, on the boat or ice skating. This time it was ice skating.

We were out far past where we should have been. In fact, we were on the other side of the lake, coming up to a secluded beach shore. The houses were waaaay up on the hill. Rachel wanted to show me how well she could do a figure eight. Rachel was a figure skater as well.

I on the other hand, being slow and uncoordinated, big and dumb...wanted to sit down on the beach. A fallen tree made the perfect bench.

I told Rachel not skate backwards, and watch where she was going because I had spotted some thin ice and open water.

Open water.

Rachel of course did not listen.

Rachel wanted to do figure eights and show me how clever she was.

Rachel fell through the ice.

Without a second thought I skated toward the open water, but not too close. I pulled off my gloves and I laid down flat on the thin ice. She was being pulled under the ice gasping for air. I reached into the lake and pulled her out.

I gave her my gloves, which were dry. I told her to keep moving...just skate and don't stop. She was crying, and I told her it would be okay. Just keep moving.

She reached grandma's house well before I did.

Later her parents told me that if I had left her to get help she would have most likely drowned. They asked me how I knew what to do. And all I could say is... "I don't know".

I was 10, Rachel was 8.

Not long after that Rachel and I stopped being forced to spend time together. I believe that her mom and my mom had a falling out, or they had been tolerating each other as well. I have no idea where she is...only through rumor that she was going to get her Masters Degree in Psychology. But that was several years ago.

Rachel is probably very successful. She may even be a millionaire or a president of a super society comprised of beautiful blonde petite women who own trampolines. But that is okay. I genuinely hope that she is doing well. Because I know...and now you know...one day she needed me.


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