My sister Alyx and her husband Virgil live in their RV in our backyard. This has been going on for three months and is likely to continue for at least another eight. We split the utilities and the use of the washer and dryer and they use the downstairs bathroom. My sister and I chat for a bit nearly every day, and the four of us share a meal a couple of times a week. Otherwise, we're two households sharing a plot of land.
Alyx is seven years younger than me (she was born on my seventh birthday), so she and I have some separate memories. I remember neighborhood gatherings at summer dusk in Quantico, Virginia and my father's work parties where the families gathered and the wasps hovered over open cans of beer and soda. Alyx wasn't born yet. She remembers times in high school when she'd send a friend into the living room to talk to my parents, diverting them while she raided the kitchen cupboards. I was away at college by then so I don't remember.
We do have some shared memories, though. Family Christmases and vacations - for better or for worse, school plays (we were both in the cast of The Sound of Music in my junior year of high school; she played Brigitta and I was Leisl). My mother's poodles and their puppies. Dad wearing black shoes and socks to the beach.
And more recent memories: scattering my mother's ashes off the stern of a cruise ship, anticipating they'd trail out behind the vessel near the Bay of Fundy (they blew back onto the two-story restaurant window instead). A bus ride in Montreal where I inexplicably got off at a stop without telling the rest of them and they scrambled to catch up. The time I backed down their driveway in Crestline, California in a rental car, slid on the ice, dented their mailbox and ripped the side mirror from the vehicle. We all laugh every time we talk about these stories.
They laugh harder when I admit for the umpteenth time that I am an excellent driver except for the seven times I have backed into another vehicle or a post in a parking lot. The one in Crestline was about the fourth; the most recent was last December in Hawaii. My husband Art continues to remind me that I need to look back when I'm backing up so I'll see vehicles or objects that appear out of the blue. Apparently the rest of them are far more astute in the backing category.
Until today. Art had backed our manual-transmission pickup down our steep driveway to unload a barbecue and food left over from a group picnic. Today he decided to move the truck to the back yard. In the brake-shift-accelerator process, the vehicle slid the final foot down the driveway, hit the barbeque and bent it, and shattered the truck's left taillight. Then the accelerator kicked in and the tires screeched as the truck ascended the driveway. It was a noisy event. Alyx and I were in the garden, heard it, and got the giggles. We wanted to be kind to Art as he stomped around and not say anything, and that made it even funnier.
The cool part is that Art's driveway episode will be added to our joint memory of things to laugh at.
Looking back, you know, and giggling.
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