It’s August ten-ish years ago, and I haven’t slept in days.

I’ve spent a week with other people’s children, mulling over maybe making some myself.  I’m sunburned, crisscrossed angry red lines on my scalp from the variation in my part from day to day.  Camp songs still running through my head.  I shouldn’t be driving, especially not this four hour drive I’m starting.  But I have to.

Gravel roads and wind should mean the car windows stay shut.  But it’s hot and I need the air to make me stay awake.  I keep pushing the “seek” button on the AM radio, fruitlessly.  Static whenever I stop scanning the dial.

As the car climbs the only hill in sight, the only hill for miles, the radio stops seeking, gets a hit.

There is a girl talking.  She’s hosting one of those call in shows, where people try to pawn off their useless crap/treasures on other people.  And this girl, overseeing it all, is making fun of the yokels, in a way the yokels probably won’t catch.  And even if they did catch on, they couldn’t help but laugh at themselves, because she manages to do it in a way that makes you feel like she’s your friend, and she’s only teasing you because she loves you, and you’ll probably go for a beer later.

I know that I’m in Saskatchewan.  I know that my sister is a small town radio DJ.  But I shouldn’t be able to hear her from here.  She’s in a town four and a half hours east and south.  The clouds and the wind intervened, delivered her voice to me.

I keep driving, grinning at her suddenly here in my car.  And then she’s gone.  I’ve driven out of the range that this freak arrangement of air had gifted me.

I need to get home.  I’m tired, I have a long, long way to go.

I need to have my sister in this car with me.

I turn around, drive back to the top of the hill.

I sit there, pulled over to the edge of the road.  Windows open, a not so fine layer of dust starting to coat the dashboard.  And I’m smiling and crying, because I can’t settle on either.

I miss her.

A childhood of competing and hating and jealousy and need and gut-searing fear had been drawn into a thin wire of relieved love and glances exchanged between those who made it through, and won’t ever be able to explain it to anyone else, ever, not really.

And just when I liked her, appreciated her, I left.  She left, too.

If we wanted to see each other, we could.   We could pick up the phone, be talking instantaneously.  But we didn’t, always.  Fucking “life”, getting in the way.

So I sat there in the car, ignoring fucking “life”, letting her talk without interruption.  Revelling in the sensation of being with her, and at the same time missing her in a way that felt physical, like I was running around with a vital organ missing.

The wind shifted.  The clouds broke.  Her voice was gone.

I used the back of my hand to wipe the tears out of my eyes, put the car in drive, flipped the visor down, and headed west.

Thankful I had her, sad that I didn’t anymore, not really.

I miss her.


36 responses to “Ductile

  1. What a sweet tribute. It’s amazing sometimes the way those radio waves can bounce around just exactly right. I’ve caught stations from 4-6 hours away before, and it felt like magic. Now that I’ve read this, I know that your experience was the real magic.

  2. As a former radio announcer myself, this is what those of us who took the profession seriously strove for every time we opened the mic. To be the voice that joined you wherever you were and made you feel like you were the only listener that mattered.

    Awesomeness, my friend . . .

    • Radio was such a huge part of my childhood. When I was a kid, we were so remote that (especially in summer, when school was out) I could go a week without seeing anyone outside my immediate family. Radio gave this sense of connection to the outside world that was invaluable. So yeah, you dj-types can be a pretty big deal 😉

  3. (sigh) just back from a rather wild and festive weekend catching up with my sister, who lives about 1,000 miles away. and we both agreed that it really shouldn’t be this rare… great story, ginny…

  4. This is an amazing story. My sister and I are 6 years apart (she’s older) and we didn’t really even talk to each other until I was 14. Now, we’ve vowed that we’ll never move away from each other because we couldn’t take the distance.

    I’ve just started following your blog, and although you don’t post often, when you do it is a gift.

  5. What a lovely post. Nice that the clouds and the wind delivered this recollection to you. Thanks for sharing it.

  6. Dammit I wish I had a sister. One like you.
    Beautiful post Ginny, felt like I was there.

  7. Very nice.

    Are you close with her now?

  8. My sister had her first baby 9 years ago, and our phone calls haven’t been the same since then. Most of the time we spend on the phone she talks to her kids. I probably do the same now. It’s a shame, because we’re really good together. But we’re just not together anymore.

  9. This is what I think of when I pine for a sister. Maybe I see it like a mother without all the baggage.

    I have two girls and I hope and pray they stay close, to support each other through things, to poke fun at my husband and I, rattling off all the things we did wrong, to connect as only two people can who share part of the same reality.

    Lovely as ever G.

    • It’s not a small part of why I had the second kid. So they could have that experience of having another human being whose truth is so similar and intertwined with yours.

      Thanks, Chris.

  10. My sister and i rarely speak. It’s a long and convuluted story. This post was excellent.

    • Well hell, all the good family stories are long and convoluted! The happy ones are boring as fuck.

      (PS: That sister? Moved to your town. If I ever make my way down there, you are so buying beer.)

  11. I’m not sure when it changes from “I will kill you” to “I wish we saw more of each other.” But any sister — or brother — would be proud to have it expressed so well. Beautiful post.

  12. That was a beautiful story.

  13. Wow. I love this one Ginny. I miss my sister too. We had the same rough relationship that got really good when we said goodbye. The other day she sent me a package that contained tea bags with instructions on how to make iced tea in her funky curly handwriting, as if I didn’t know how to make iced tea. She also sent me dishrags (!!) and a thing to clean eyeglasses with. Turns out she’s dirt broke, but wanted to send me something, so she just collected a bunch of stuff lying around her house that she thought I could use and sent them. I lost it when I got the package. Could NOT stop crying.

  14. This was a wonderful post. This is the first I’ve posted here on you’re site since I’ve started reading. (I came over with all those others after your ‘letter’ to your kids teacher, lol) I always check for new posts because you really are a great writer and I love how well you express your life and frustrations and joy. This post made me tear up because I don’t get to see much of my sister, even though we now finally get along (well, mostly) and she only lives about 10 mins. away. Even though we are both young (I’m 23, she’s 22) our lives get in the way. School, work, boyfriends…it’s always crazy…it always was, even when we lived in the same house we didn’t spend much time together. I blame that on annoying teenage-ness though. I mainly wanted to say that your post made me want to have a sleepover with my sister, I asked her and she is totally down for it! So thank you Ginny. Now she and I just need to schedule it…hahaha.

  15. So sweet and sad! I must admit, the brother I couldn’t stand when I was younger is definitely my favourite now.

  16. Clearly you thought you were getting the radio station with your sister, but it was another, because your sister was a talentless hack who got out before she TOTALLY embarrassed herself.

    Seriously though, I don’t even know what to say. Too emotional these days. But to read something like this makes me feel overwhelmed and loved and unworthy all at the same time. And like holding up a mirror and shooting all this stuff right back at you. You are such an inspiration and have no idea. That, or you are the most humble person I have ever met. I think it’s the first one.

  17. Beautiful, Ginny. There is nothing like distance to make you appreciate family. I hope you get to spend more time together, soon and often!

  18. I need to call my sisters. I haven’t talked to Marg since March, when she’d heard that all of Rhode Island had flooded and wanted to make sure I was OK. Sometimes I call her when there’s a quake near Los Angeles, or a wildfire, just to make sure she’s OK.

    Chris lives on the other side of Connecticut. Her life with 6 kids is always all up in her face. But she still takes the time to see how I am.

  19. Gee, THANKS. For the random mid-afternoon tears when I have other people’s kids in my backyard. Damn. Really glad I stopped by, though.

  20. First, a caveat: I love you. Now, I must tell you that I am not happy with you. You made me cry. Not just a little, but like openly weeping cry. You know how much I dislike crying. I love you and I miss you and you are way more awesome than you give yourself credit for most days. Oh and I’m really glad you’re writing again 🙂

  21. You snuck back in while I was away. You’re even commenting. Nice seeing your avatar around here again. 😉
    It would appear I’m not the only one that missed you. That’s a butt load of comments. 😛

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