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Summer in a Red Mustang with Cookies


matter of my life. For it to have been otherwise never crossed my
mind. Then Fatethat ingenious painter of destinystepped forward
and threw open the door to a whole new world, a world that
terrified me one day and excited me the next.
I thought she was crazy of course, but beautiful, not in a Cosmo
cover girl way, more like some mysterious alien from an episode of
Twilight Zone where this exotic creature disguised in human form
invaded the neighborhood and took over everyone’s minds so that
everything they did was orchestrated and controlled by her.
She was a funny person too. No one, I mean no one could
make me laugh like she could. But at the same time there was
always something beneath the surface of her laughter that haunted
me. Like God didn’t give her everythingbeauty, brains, wit and
talent weren’t enoughlike something more important was missing.
All the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle were there except for one
right in the middle, the most critical one connecting all the other
pieces. It was like she had this hole in her heart and everything she
did was about filling it. She was the loneliest person I had ever met.
She pursued one interest after another with such voracity and
intensity it was exhausting at timeslike she had this list of things
she was going through, checking them off day-by-day with only a
sliver of time to do them in. But at the same time it was all a big
game to her tooa game that didn’t come without its rules.
Rule number one: don’t talk about itespecially if it’s bad.
I was already good at that because it was also rule number one in
our family. Rule number two: pretend it isn’t happening and maybe
it’ll go away. I had that one mastered too. In our family whenever
anything bad was happening we denied it, to each other, but more
importantly, to ourselves and I wore the crown. I was the “Queen
of Denial” as my father always said. Rule number three: above all
else have fun. I knew very little about this rule, at least not the way
she defined itlet loose, throw caution to the wind, worry about
it tomorrow if you have to and maybe tomorrow will never come
and above all else don’t think about the consequences because
chances are there won’t be anybut I was about to get a crash
course in the art of fun and little did I know that I was being
tutored by a master.
One week she was an actress, New York bound, then she was
the next Alfred Hitchcock directing her horrifying version of Romeo
and Juliet with me and Harold as the star-crossed lovers, then, thank
God, she abandoned that flea-brained idea for photography,
recording our every move with her Nikon, our entire lives frozen in
black-and-white rectangles. Then there was her stint as the Joni
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