The roses bud by April along with the “banana tree” that I grew up playing hide and seek behind. The Honey Sickle bushes that surround the front of my gates and bloom with tiny white flowers give the red brick house, that I spent my first fourteen years, the illusion of a cottage, tucked away in a secluded part of the wilderness and not the openness of the deserts of New Mexico. Long summer days seem to drag on and on, with nothing to do and nothing to play. With three other siblings sometimes it was hard to entertain ourselves, especially for me. My Mother once told me that I had no imagination at the time I didn’t know what an imagination was and since I didn’t have one I thought I was going to get sick and die. My oldest sister Jenny did not have this problem she could dream up anything. One particular summer Jenny dreamt up the “Ambush,” which has always and always will stay with me.
My Dad and I had both just gotten super soakers as gifts for my birthday and for Fathers Day, and that is when the “Ambush” appeared in Jenny’s mind. All growing up Jenny was the one planning games and activities for the rest of us. Maybe it was because she was the oldest or maybe it was because she was the one with the biggest imagination. We spent the whole afternoon planning, each one of us kids had our part, and so did my mom. The plan was as soon as my dad got home from work my mom would usher him out the back door, saying that the kids had something to show him. That is where we would ambush him. It was real genius in our eyes. I felt like I was the most important because I had the biggest gun and everyone kept asking to borrow it, but of course as an eight year old would, I said “No,” quite frankly.
My Dad worked long hours and wouldn’t get home until around seven or eight this is how he provided for his family. My mother is a stay at home mom and it was always her goal in life just to take care of her family. When my Dad got home that night we were in luck he wasn’t too tired. Looking back at that summer night, I believe my mom probably spoiled the surprised and warned him about what was to come. My Dad headed towards the door, and there we stood, all four of us in proud line, Jenny as our captain. She yelled fire and that’s what we did. The look on my Dads face as we soaked him is still priceless in my mind.
After the initial blast, Jenny handed my Dad his gun to make the war fair, and that is when it turned from having an army of soldiers on your side to every man for himself. Water flew everywhere; we used trees, tables, and slides as our forts. If you could get to the garden hose you were suppose to just refill and leave, but everyone was using this as their gun. Suddenly I was out of ammo. What was I going to do? My dad was standing guard of the garden hose laughing, spraying anyone who came close to the hose. And that is when I realized that we had two garden hoses, the other in the front yard. I made my escape quick and fast. I reached the hose safely and refilled, I wanted to get back to the action.
As I rounded the last corner I only saw one thing in my way, a wooden fence that connected to the cinder block wall we shared with our neighbors. I put down my weapon, stood on my tip toes, and stretched with all my might to look over the fence. My eyes peeked over like a hunter in the forest. And there I saw her, my sister Angie, with her pants down, well not literally, but she was out in the open and unarmed. Angie is almost three years older than me, but usually does not act that way. I believe it’s for the attention. My Dads favorite quote is “Act your age, not your shoe size.” I believe that he is only talking to Angie, and not me, when he chooses to use that quote.
“Perfect!” I thought to myself.
I began the ascent up the cement wall on the side. I was unfamiliar with this wall, two years previous my Dad had put two wooden fences in on either side of the house, but this one did not open, so I would have to go over it and not through it. I could not drop my gun on the other side or leave it on one for fear of it being stolen by a thief (a brother or a sister.) So I climb on. I was about one foot off the ground now, and getting worried, I was unsteady and nervous. And then the worst happened. Then neighbor’s dogs rounded the bend and began barking at me, loud cannon barks, louder than I have ever heard.
Our next door neighbors were very nice people. They had three kids and two dogs. My brother and I would go over and play at their house almost every afternoon they had a swing set that was bright blue and sunny yellow and when you swung on the swings, I promise, you almost touched the sky. To us it was far better than our worn out and used wooden set the slide wasn’t nearly as high and nothing could replace the teeter-totter they had. The only problem was that their dog Cody never liked me. The summer before the Ambush, Cody had bitten the back of my leg after I had decided to have a staring contest with him. Apparently animals don’t like to be stared at, and I, I had to learn that the hard way. But ever since then Cody had always scared me, and there he was barking like a mad woman two feet away.
But there she came, my oldest sister Jenny, to ultimately save me. She told me to hand me the gun while I hopped over, so that I could steady my step. Could she be trusted? Jenny has always been there for me and is a comforting person, it’s her nature. She was always like that and will always be that way. So I decided it was a chance I was willing to take, a chance I had to take. I handed over my weapon, I felt a little bit defeated inside.
I continued my journey up the wall of five feet. I was almost over, the last leg of my journey, the dogs still barking and jumping--when I almost slipped. I decided to use the neighbor’s chain link fence to prop myself over. Big mistake, as I did this Cody, the dog, my sworn enemy, was their waiting. His dark chocolate mane reminded me of wet mud, his yellow eyes stared right into mine, and his teeth like knives moisten with gallons of slobber. In those seconds we made eye contact, and then he lunged and bit. Next thing I knew I was on my butt.
“Hurry up Peggy-- they are going to find us!” Jenny yelled
Jenny’s back had been turned; it was her job to keep watch. She turned around to find me back on my side of the wall. You could only imagine her annoyance that I still had not made it over the wall. Before she could yell at me further I stood up and raised my left hand. Jenny and mine eyes were matching, both as big as watermelons, the hand that was propping me up on that fateful chain link fence was now streaming with a, deep, dark, red, blood. Cody had bitten me.
As I began to cry Jenny began to scream, no one bothering to pay any attention to us, lost in their own worlds of laughter and water. I headed towards the front door while clutching my wound screaming as if I were dying. Jenny ran in the back to alert the media that Peggy once again had managed to get herself in quite a predicament. When I got to the front door it was locked, for my mother did not want people running in out of her house wet and screaming. I rang the door bell over a hundred times, but she could not hear. She was watching and listening to the festivities on the other side, a world away.
Jenny finally reached my Mom on the other side of the planet, who was watching her family with enjoyment from the kitchen window while she did the dishes, and told her to answer the door. What seemed like five hours and a million tears later my mother came to my rescue like all mothers do to their injured children. We didn’t go to the doctors until the next day. Four x-rays later we received the verdict; four broken bones. I wore a cast for the next twelve weeks and when school started I didn’t have to play basketball in gym class, which seemed like the most exciting thing to me.
I don’t have many memories from my childhood that I can remember, but this one I do and it’s not because of the dog bite. That bite didn’t ruin anything it just made things a little more interesting. That summer night when the water was flying and my whole family was laughing everything was perfect, everyone was happy.
We’re usually in a semi circle, all facing and looking at the others, just us three. We try to keep it secret but someone usually starts pounding on the door wanting to join or talk, we then scream “LEAVE US ALONE WE’RE HAVING A YA-YA!” Four years ago is when this weird tradition of ours started, it just kind of stuck after that. It is a lot of fun and games, but at the same time we take each others opinions seriously and care about what the others are saying. We respect each other, we look up to each other, and expect that the others will help with advice. Around a year ago during a particularly in depth and thoughtful ya-ya we started to talk about the future and what it had in store for each of us. I don’t remember the exact time or place that this conversation happened but I do remember the jest of what was said. We, being my two sisters and I aged twenty three (Jenny), twenty one (Angie), and eighteen (myself) all single and all depressed with our love lives, careers/schooling, and such talked about what the next year had in store. We talked about how none of would be married. No way could one of us meet a guy, fall in love, and plan a wedding within one year with our luck. We talked about how we would all probably be at the same schools, at the same dead end jobs, living paycheck to paycheck, writing papers last minute for all of our classes. It gives me anxiety thinking back to that night and knowing that one year has already passed and how dead on we were, but also how far off. Yes, we may all be at the same schools procrastinating on our homework for our English classes and yes we maybe living paycheck to paycheck, but what college student aren’t? But we were wrong about some things. My twenty four year old sister met her husband in February, wedded in August, and they are already expecting their first child! Her life in particular is upside down compared to one year ago. And my twenty two year old sister is moving to the
The last ya-ya that we had was right before my sisters wedding reception in August, she was suppose to be doing her hair but instead we were locked in the bedroom together talking. As my mother, then my father, and then my new brother in-law all knocked on the door to ask what in the world we were doing and to tell us to hurry up because she couldn’t be late to her own wedding, we looked at each other and contentedly laughed. As Angie and I watched Jenny that night in her wedding gown, happy and beautiful, memories from the three of us growing up flooded my memory.
Jenny was about ten and she received a brand new pair of high-top sneakers. I’m quite sure they were made for boys, not girls. They were massive on here petite feet and she wore them happily and proudly. Well, they weren’t technically new. To us they were, but to everyone else they were worn and used. Our grandma loved bringing home giant heavy duty, black, trash bags full of others used and unwanted possessions from garage sales. Despite my mother’s pleas for here to desist, she continued. Without fail my plump Mexican/American grandmother would arrive at our house with our grandpa trailing behind her, arms over burdened with a large black plastic sack so big we couldn’t even see his face and she would proclaim an a Spanish accent,
“Mija, I bought you something!”
And my mother would sigh and mutter under her breath “not again.”
As Jenny tied her boxes of shoes to her feet and wiggled her toes around she decided she needed to test them out. Standing there watching her she called me over to her, she placed me right in front and with precise precision and with all her might Jenny kicked me square in the stomach. Being a six year old I can never remember before that point having the air knocked out of me. Lying on my back I remember wondering why, no matter how hard I tried, why I couldn’t get air into my lungs. I don’t remember what happened after that, if my sister ever got in trouble for craze karate kick or if it just slid by.
But things did change. Relationships grow and we grew up. Instead of wearing teenage boy high-tops we started to buy Steve Madden and BCBG high hill knock offs.
It was sometime in the month of November and we were in a hotel somewhere in Provo, Utah Jenny was laying next to me reading and I was thinking about how drastically her life was about to change tomorrow morning. To me she showed no fear, but I had enough fear for the both of us. Her example over the next eighteen month impacted me more than she will probably ever know. A year and a half later when we were at the air port picking her up Jenny was crying harder than when she left. She hated the idea of being home and I thought “Who the heck is this girl! And give me back my sister.” Day’s past and she adjusted I relearned who she was and realized she still was the same Jenny that when I seven convinced me to lick up ants because they tasted like lemons and made me chocolate pudding with rollie pollies in it.
When I was eight years old my mother announced to Angie and I that we were going to move in together and share a room. Angie hated this idea, so in turn I hated the idea. As the dreaded Saturday came that we switched rooms, Angie declared that she refused to live with someone that still played with Barbie’s. They were for babies and she was not a baby, so either I got rid of my collection, or I was homeless. After Angie was finished with her fiasco I gathered up my dolls, went to the bathroom, and proceeded to stuff them inside plastic baggies. For the next month they hid safely tucked beneath my bed, where Angie could not see them. I don’t remember how they were discovered or who ratted me at to my big sister, but I do remember how mad Angie was when she found them. She yelled and yelled, and then she threw them all away. I used to tell people she cut the heads off and then threw them away, but I don’t know if that is completely true… I just have told this story so many times I think I believe it now.
Since that incident with the Barbie’s, yelling, and decapitation, Angie and I have matured and put our differences aside, especially when it comes to dolls. We live in separate states but whenever given the chance to see each other I start counting down the days until till were together making comments that in my parents minds are inappropriate or unladylike, which would make my dad’s eyes ‘pop’ and my mom shudder with annoyance.
Airports seem to be a prime time for Angie’s and my humor. It’s already a stressful, crowded, annoying place to be, so our humor helps. One particular trip home from
I did not grow up being physically and emotionally abused by my older sisters, I’m not asking for pity, or trying to make them feel bad. Even though I will forward this to both of them and if I do receive an “I’m sorry” or an edible flower arrangement in the mail, I’m not going to complain. But as I look back through my memories in my mind, pictures of my siblings and I riding our dog Sam as a horse to dressing my younger brother as a girl in our dresses floods into view. Happy and sad ones standout, but overall I can see the changes in our relationships. Though I may be younger, one married, and the other is moving to the other side of the world we are bound together and our past experiences, which we now laugh at, bring us closer.