In honor of my sister’s birthday, today’s Blast from the Past is a true story of best sisters and friends forever.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

It’s true, it really is…
Cooler Near the Lake

In Wisconsin I guess I took for granted all of the accessible lakes. I grew up approximately 22 blocks from Lake Michigan, though I’m often heard bashing our bay’s high pollution level being situated right between Milwaukee and Chicago. Seriously, hazing for summer lifeguards involves swimming from a boat to shore and then they are never actually on duty because the pollution levels are too high. They just put up these “No Lifeguard on Duty: High Pollution Swim at Your Own Risk” signs and interact with parents who say seemingly ridiculous things such as, “Oh, no, I wouldn’t go in there, but it’s okay for my kids to swim, right?”

Then there were other lakes. Community lakes rimmed by large cabins, houses, and rickety old docks with anchored rafts floating 15-20 feet away. Public lakes with grassy lawns edging sandy beaches. My sister got her license just before I turned nine. That next summer she would pick me up from intramural drama classes (yes, during the summer; I know, I’m a dork) and have to “watch me” for the rest of the day. On days when all the stars aligned (my sister didn’t have to go to work, we had enough money to get in, or it was free), we would head straight from class to Silver Lake.

Her best friend(M) and my best friend(L) were sisters, so the four of us would cram the car with beach blankets, towels, tanning oils, books, boombox and all the tapes we wanted. Okay, all the tapes they wanted; usually a wide variety from Metallica’s Master of Puppets to NWA to Andrew Dice Clay. Needless to say, not the most wholesome listening choices for a 9-year-old girl.

We would spread out a couple large blankets and my sister and M would strip to their teeny bikinis, oil up, and shake their 80s bangs to Sir Mix A Lot’s “Buttermilk Biscuits” while scoping out the prospects. Meanwhile, L and I would swim past the buoys, do water tricks until we were blue in the face (and sand-covered and pruned-up everywhere else), beg for ice cream money, and then sit back to soak up some rays and marvel at the majesty that were teenagers.

We idolized our sisters—both of whom did some modeling for local places—and we were their “mini-me”s. In a way, I think our sisters used us almost as much as we benefited from being with them. We would call over boys our sisters thought were cute so they didn’t have to do it themselves. We tricked people into believing that M and I were sisters and my sister and L were sisters . . . that is, until they saw the real siblings next to each other and realized the younger could have been the elder’s twin, just delayed by seven years. L and I would inevitably get into some petty fight and our sisters would threaten to beat the living crap out of us or strand us on some random country roadside between the lake and home. We would settle down, only to get upset once again when we had to leave because we knew that once we got in that car, things just wouldn’t be the same.

And we were right.

We grew up and life kind of got in the way. Although we still talked and hung out some, L and I sort of drifted apart through junior high and high school. My sister and M stuck it out longer, but eventually found different people to hang out with on an everyday basis. Every time I go home I think about L and her family, just a quarter of a mile down the road. On a clear winter day, I could almost see their place through the barren field behind my house. I think the last time the four of us were out together was at some bar on my sister’s 30th birthday . . . and I left early to chill with my current best friend. Yeah, we still get together from time to time, we still fight and we still make up. We will always love each other, but it’ll never be like those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer at Silver Lake.