I’ve mentioned before how Cyndi and I didn’t get along until suddenly, when I was 29, all our contention evaporated. Up until that point, the absence of peace between us wasn’t from lack of trying. We did try, and no matter our determination, we’d end up angry and we’d be grumpy at each other. (At least by our mid-twenties we’d stopped punching each other.) She spent some of her vacations to come see me and we’d try to be nice. It never completely worked.
In 1984, she came out to visit me for Thanksgiving. I was living outside of Washington D.C. and our other sister, Suzy, was living about five hours north of me in New Jersey. We decided to all get together for Thanksgiving dinner at my apartment. Before Thursday, Cyndi and I went shopping and sightseeing. One of my favorite things to do was to see the many historical monuments at night when it was quiet, there was little traffic, and all the white stone glowed with brilliant spotlights. The Potomac River sparkled with the reflection of all the lights of D.C. and the Jefferson Memorial was a sight to behold. When we went to the Iwo Jima memorial, I turned off the car and we sat and marveled for a time. The illuminated flag flapped in the wind against the black canvas of the night sky and the glowing bronze statues of marines lifting Old Glory showed exquisite detail beneath the floodlights. It was breathtaking.
When it was time to start my car to leave, that pesky starter trouble I was having back then (which I wrote about a few weeks ago) reared its ugly head again. I said to Cyndi, “Hey, get out and give it a push, okay?” I just needed the car to roll a little so I could pop the clutch.
“I’m not getting out!” She was sure someone was hiding in the shadows or dark bushes next to Iwo Jima.
“It’s fine. Just a quick push.”
“Really. It’s fine. Just a quick push.”
There is a certain amount of stubbornness in our family. We both have a good measure of it.
She didn’t get out and push.
And the discord between us began anew.
I did it myself, then jumped back in as it rolled. And no one came out of the bushes.
The next day, I successfully cooked one of the only turkeys I’ve ever cooked. I used one of those (probably toxic) oven roasting bags. The dinner was great. And with Suzy there (the middle sister who was the peacemaker), we got along fine. The Iwo Jima incident was behind us.
The next day, Cyndi had her return flight to Colorado. We didn’t know it yet, but the Friday after Thanksgiving is apparently the busiest travel day of any and all days in the entire world in the whole history of mankind. (Okay, well maybe it’s Wednesday before Thanksgiving. But you get the idea.) I didn’t factor this into the commute time when I estimated what it would take to get Cyndi to National Airport (its name back then) for her return flight. She absolutely had to be back that day. As we sat in unmoving traffic, she was getting more and more upset, and a lot of the frustration was aimed at me—understandably, because I’d fouled up and told her it would be fine if we left when we had. After sitting near the entrance to the airport, not moving for so long we could see the minute hands on our watches move around the clock faces, she jumped out of the car, grabbed her luggage and many bags (remember I said we’d gone shopping?) and hopped into a cab sitting next to us in the taxi lane. They seemed to be having a little more luck inching forward toward the airport entrance. No prolonged, emotional farewell for us. She might have said bye as the door slammed shut. I sat there watching the cabs go about two miles per hour creeping forward. Cyndi’s cab went about a block and she jumped back out, arms loaded with bags, and sped toward the airport entrance on her own two feet.
Somehow, she didn’t miss her flight. Without the security checks like we have now, she bolted through the airport entrance and toward her gate without stopping until she burst through the plane door, which was about to be closed. A flight attendant stopped her and exclaimed, “You can’t bring all that on!” referring to her luggage and all her shopping bags (a stereo system matching mine that she’d bought because it was such a good deal). “We don’t have room!” the flight attended said.
“I have to!” Cyndi said, in the same tone of voice, I imagine, that she’d used after I’d told her to get out of the car and push. They had a “little discussion” about it, from what she told me afterwards, but Cyndi won and her stuff stayed on the plane somewhere, and she made it home in time.
The lesson in this? Cook your turkey in a roasting bag. No, not really. That must transfer all kinds of polystyrene or BPA toxins into your turkey. If you’re visiting family for Thanksgiving or having guests come—here’s the takeaway: Just get along. And if that doesn’t work, allow plenty of time when traveling, shop online (or tell your guest to) once vacation is over, and make sure your car is in good working order before you take relatives sightseeing. Because you never know when they won’t do what you tell them to do.
Life with Quadruplets