Sarah part one When Sarah was about 4 and I was 14 she caught some grass snakes- two of them. I'd been mowing the bottom part of the front yard- another push mower, thick, thick grass down where it was fed from the drainage/sewer ditch. I didn't see the snakes run from the mower or the moment she caught them- but I saw her later after she'd "tamed" them. From birth her hair was white blond- a "toe head" we call em in the south. So the contrast of the green snakes wriggling through her hair, her giggling and tiny and beautiful- was all that more astonishing.
When Sarah was about 7 and I was 17 I walked in to her room one day and she jumped, all guilty like. What? I had to ask. There was never any reason she'd need to worry about what I saw or thought- at 7 or anytime else.
I looked at her face, going red- which she still does when embarrassed and then noticed a flittering zoom. A bird, and then another one- wild birds in her room.
She'd noticed at sunset they liked to roost in the hallow tube of the swing set. She'd plugged one end up and some how coaxed them out so she could bring them inside to play with. She felt guilty because she knew it wasn't right to bring wild birds inside. I wanted to tell everyone- how goddamn amazingly smart is that? - She begged me not to say anything and immediately caught and released the birds.
I still told everyone- how could you not? Who is this little blond wild child that lives among us?
At 8 and 9 I watched her bring back injured animals and nurture them right. A snake she'd accidentally ridden over on her bike- sobbing she brought it in and kept it in a shoebox next to her bed. A baby bird, a robin with barely any fluff- lord, how was that going to turn out? Later, after it had grown and was released, she could still stand on the rabbit hutch and it would swoop down from a neighbor's telephone wire to perch on her shoulder.
At 10 I watched her stick her arm up to the shoulder in the shadowy/spidery depths of a wood pile and come out with a lizard.
That's not all she's about. The animal thing is spooky and enough to make you reel and wonder- but there's other stuff.
She's very girly. The girliest one of all my mother's girls. She's got style- all inborn- coming from her own way of seeing and deciding on what's beautiful and worthwhile and she's always right. I'm hoping she will help me decorate my boring, sad-ass house.
She's also a slob. Her room is always a mess, but a charming mess. A mess of carefully chosen clothes and funny trinkets and things she loves- her messy room always smells nice.
She is fiercely loyal. Her friends love her. Many are men who obviously harbor soul crushing crushes on her- but are happy- as in actively pleased- to be in her company- no matter the role they are delegated to.
She can burp at will. Thunderous burps. She lets them fly to tease my mom. She's got an arm that's double jointed- she can practically turn around backwards- it's the grossest thing.
A year ago she was about to finish her degree in Zoology. She was in the final semester- physics had been kicking her butt, repeatedly. She hated school and was quite certain she had no interest in being a veterinarian. She was also not, NOT going to marry that schmuckola- thank god. But had yet to entirely disengage herself of him. She'd joined this group that was dedicated to catching stray cats and having them spayed and neutered- thus far she'd only managed to catch possums.
And then shit-for-brains started a war.
It was quick- getting called up. There was a lot to be done. Getting un-enrolled from school- getting her apartment packed up, getting out of her cell phone plan, deciding what to do with the cats, getting the helpless/hapless ex-fiance all sorted away.
I made some phone calls trying to help out. I remember writing a number on a piece of paper and including the extension. On the paper I wrote "x" 235. Sarah didn't know "x" stood for extension. I remember the fear and confusion jumping up in her face. She'd been worried about finishing school anyway and what she would do next. I told her at that time- information that meant nothing because she was off to the desert for a year- this is nothing, nothing- please believe me. You're way smarter then "x"- and none of this means anything.
For the past year, when looking on the "bright side"- I've imagined Sarah coming home and never, ever being thrown by "x" or anything else- ever again.
And now she's home. And it's too much for one post. More later.