Thursday, September 6, 2012


Maybe everybody has one.  That person, the one you can be away from for a long time, not see or talk to, but when you are together again, it is the same, as if no time has passed at all.

My person is Dawn.  Dawn is my first cousin on my dad's side.  She is 11 months younger than me.  We did this Glamor Shots session with our mothers when we were in our 20s.  Didn't everyone?

She is the main reason I agreed to go to Pensacola with my parents.  I haven't seen her in about 5 years.  Too long.

More than 5 years ago.  We are probably 16 and 17 here.  The last time I vacationed in Florida with my parents before I married and had children.

Because my grandparents and my dad's sister lived in southern Alabama and Pensacola, we vacationed there a lot.  This is one of the oldest pictures of us I could find.  On the far left is David, my cousin and Dawn's older brother, then me, Dawn and my older brother Donnie.

As kids, we were buried in the sand at least once on each trip.  From the foreground it is me, my brother Donnie, my younger brother Aaron, David & Dawn.

Our families spent a lot of time together, visiting family, staying at the beach.
(left to right:  Aaron, Donnie, me, my dad, my mom, Dawn, David, their mom/my dad's sister Phyllis and their dad Jim)

We also attended church.  Here we stand to sing with our grandma Meriam.  My dad was raised Primitive Baptist and their way of singing was so strange to us as kids.  If you have ever seen the movie Cold Mountain, you have seen this in the scene at the church when the men and women are seated in separate sections and they sing while keeping time with their hands/arms.  It is called Shape Note or Sacred Harp singing and it was so weird (now I find it oddly nostalgic).  The other thing about attending church here was that everyone seemed impossibly old.

As we got older, we were left to our own devices more frequently.  I think it was on this visit where I am 14 and Dawn is 13 that she was to play lookout while I went out to the beach with a boy.  That boy was staying at the same hotel as us.  There were 4 of them and I can't tell you their names - that is lost to time - but their initials were RBBP.  I know this because Dawn and I wrote that on letters and envelopes for years after that.  Our little secret.  I wasn't on the beach long.  Dawn came to get me as my parents were looking for me.  I got in a little trouble.

Dawn knew that I might write about my recent trip and told me, "No swimsuit photos".  But what if those photos were taken when we were 16 & 17?

"Well that's different."

On the first day of this trip when we see each other and have been talking a while, Dawn turns to me and says, "Why don't we see each other more?"  I don't know I told her.  And I really don't.

I was a bridesmaid at Dawn's wedding in 1992.  She was to be my maid of honor in 1987 but didn't even get to come to my wedding at all.  A few days before they were to leave to come to Texas, her brother David was in a car accident.  I married on Saturday without her there.  David died a few days later.  My husband and I gave up our honeymoon so my parents could go to Florida and be with their family.

Sadly, that is how it has been in our adult lives. We see each other mainly for funerals.  Here I have traveled to Florida to attend our grandfather's funeral.  My aunt Phyllis on the left, my son Blake at 4 months, in my lap.  Dawn's wedding was just a few weeks later.

After Dawn asked that question, why don't we see each other more often, it worked on me the rest of the trip.  Along with one other dilemma.

What to do with Scotty.  Scotty was our grandpa's dog.  More accurately, he was my grandpa's wife Mary's dog.  None of us liked that dog.  He barked a lot, a yappy annoying bark.  When grandpa died, this photo of Scotty started getting passed between my dad and his sister.  This was always in secret.  Slipped in a suitcase.  Mailed in an empty Valentine's Day chocolate heart box.  Dad and I once left him attached to the air freshener hanging from the ceiling in their camper.

My aunt isn't well and can no longer be a party to this game.  I found Scotty at my house, where my aunt must have left him (in the china cabinet in a bowl), several years ago.  This is my first time to pass him back.  But this time, I will pass him to Dawn.

While she is changing after being out at the beach, I put it in her purse.  Then I obsessed that she would find it when she went to get her keys and go home.  So later, I had the opportunity to move it to her beach bag, certain she wouldn't need in there again.  I shoved him way down in the bottom.

The next day at the airport, I was digging in my purse for something when I found a box I didn't remember putting in there.  I opened it to find:
Ceramic turtles, no big deal....except....
If they were human, they would be anatomically correct.  Trust me on this.
I had completely forgotten about leaving these for Dawn years ago.  These turtles were owned by our grandmother - disturbing as that is.  It was my way to include us in the game that Dad & Phyllis played. 

Only now, I realize it isn't a game.  It is a promise.  A promise to see each other again.

Dawn and I have agreed that we don't want to go so long apart anymore.  We are planning to try and have a girls weekend at least once a year.  We are already planning the first one.  I can't wait to see her again and I know that, like always, it will be like the last time we were together was just yesterday.

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