I occasionally write a segment called “Flashback Friday” that focuses on a particular moment from my past, and I've noticed that these posts don't get as much commentary and discussion as some of my other posts (actually, I've noticed that writing about food seems to be what really gets people excited!). These Friday segments are written in a creative tone that's very different from my typical recipes, crafts or advice posts, so I think the unfamiliarity may be what keeps people from engaging. My “Flashbacks” also don't have any real-life application to any of my readers other than entertainment and the chance to relate to me on a more personal level. Lastly, the fact that I always post them on a Friday could be a major culprit – everyone's worn down and too busy focusing on their weekend to talk about my life. I can hardly blame them.
Here's one I wrote a few months back about the day my little sister was born – on my birthday.
Friday Flashback: That's Your Sister
My sister and I are the type of sisters that make other people jealous. We can finish each other’s sentences and share each other’s clothes. We’ve been all over the world together and both share a mutual love for the card game Skip-Bo, which no one else in the entire world seems to understand (seriously people, it’s not that complicated).
Oh yes, that is a penis straw in my cup. Thanks for noticing. And yes, there IS a tiara on my head. This picture was taken at my recent bachelorette party thrown in New York City (!!!) by my incredibly amazing bridesmaids. A few people have asked if I’m going to blog about it, but I’m just not sure about sticking all that stuff up on my wholesome little slice of the web. Let’s just say there were squirt guns. And sailors. And I will never look at the child’s game of “Pin the tail on the Donkey” the same way again.
So Colby and I are six years apart, to the day. She was born on my sixth birthday. This is the story (from my vantage point) of how she was born.
I remember going to sleep the night before my birthday, my mom telling me all about the party I’d have the next day with piñatas and cake and – an extremely rare treat for me – McDonald’s! Always one for surprises, my mom hadn’t found out the baby’s gender, but she was convinced it was a boy because it kicked the hell out of her constantly. My soon-to-be-born “brother” was due in three days and according to my mom, “he” was destined to be a soccer player.
I remember her tucking me in and me asking her to read the plaque on my wall, hoping to hold her attention for a few more minutes before leaving me to lay petrified in the dark. “Dear God,” she started, “When you were choosing my mom for me, how did you know to pick the very best one?” I smiled innocently and told her she was the best mom in the world. This had become a nightly occurrence. As an only child, I’d learned to “work the cuteness,” and occasionally my flattery would make her stay. But she walked to the plaque near the doorway, adjusted it, and left.
Suddenly, I was looking up to see stars moving above me as my stepdad carried me through our driveway. My mom calmly told me that I was going to stay with Brigette, our next-door neighbor who I was often forced into playdates with. Brigette had long blonde hair and numerous trophies from child beauty pageants, and I hated getting dragged to her house for what inevitably evolved into an endless parade of Barbies. Though I couldn’t remember falling asleep, I was growing more agitated with this dream by the second. A flash of brightness burst through my eyelids and I found myself on Brigette’s living room floor with her little sister’s head hovering over me, upside down. She grinned widely, tight brown curls framing her petite face. “You have a sister! It’s a girl! A sister!”
I sat up quickly, disconcerted, to face a wall of bright windows and see Brigette bounding over from a nearby doorway. She shoved a disturbingly lifelike baby doll (a boy) into my arms, exclaiming “Happy Birthday!” I peered at the naked doll, fascinated and disturbed by its tiny private parts. “My mom bought two – one for me and one for you. I want the girl, so you get the boy.” Of course Brigette gets the girl, I thought, with a faint twinge of what would eventually turn into bitterness.
Her mom walked in with a grin matching the one on the sister’s little face, her mouth dropping slightly when she saw me staring at the doll’s penis. “Happy Birthday, honey! You have a sister! We get to go to the hospital and meet her in a few minutes.” I, of course, instantly inquired about my birthday party, but Brigette’s mom explained that it would being pushed back a couple weeks. “But my birthday’s today! We have a piñaaaata,” I drew out the last word like whiney children tend to do. “Your sister’s birthday is today, too. We’ll celebrate both later. And there’s plenty of presents for you to open when we go see your mom.”
At the hospital, I was placed in front of a glass window that reminded me of a windshield. Having had a number of medical issues as a child, I’d spent way too much time in hospitals and medical offices. I was keeping an eye out for the doctor, waiting for him to spring out with his pointy little torture-needle. My mom usually waited with me before I had to get shots, making funny faces so I wouldn’t be nervous. But she wasn’t here this time. Someone gestured ahead through the window, directing my attention to a crowd of infants like the one I left laying on Brigette’s floor, naked and wrinkly. Most of these babies were thankfully covered, except one. Bigger than the rest and purple from screaming, its tiny hands contorted into tight balls. A thin clump of damp black hair stuck to its forehead. Well thank god this one’s a girl, I thought, still annoyed over the naked boy that had been thrust at me earlier in the day.
“That’s your sister,” said a voice behind me, and I looked up from my trance to see a finger extend into my peripheral vision.
It was pointing at the purple baby.
Author’s note: While the whole “sister being born on my birthday” thing was a bit traumatic at the time, I eventually got over it. Fortunately, Colby didn’t stay purple forever. And I did get my birthday party – McDonald’s and all! – a couple weeks later. Funny story: at that party, someone accidentally left Colby in the sun for too long and she got her very first sunburn. So then I had a pink sister for awhile, instead of a purple one.
And naked boys still kind of freak me out.
If I were writing this today, I'd skip the introduction and the author's note completely. I think a descriptive title such as “The day my Sister was Born” would set the reader's expectations. While I don't get the most response from these posts, I'll definitely keep writing them because creative storytelling is what got me into writing in the first place, and I enjoy the chance to reflect.
This post is part of a Back to Blogging event that a whole community of bloggers are participating in this week (sponsored by Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen and Bath, and Florida Builder Appliances). One of the prompts is to repost something we published that we wish more people had read.