The only thing that stays the same is change. Or something, however the song goes. My cousin Jackie's birthday would have been this month. She would have been 20. She died in a car wreck in 2008 when she was 16.
I was thinking about her recently and a lot of memories came back to me. Shortly after her death, I wrote in my old blog about we weren't particularly close until a few years before her death.
That was mostly due to the five-year age difference. When I'm 12, I don't have a lot in common with a 7-year-old. But, when I'm 20, I have a little bit more in common with my 15-year-old cousin. And that was the case for a few years there.
She was one of those kids that grows up too quickly. I would come in to visit and she'd ask me to buy her beer and cigarettes. I never bought her beer. But, honestly, that's because I only saw her two or three times after I turned 21. I bought her cigarettes a lot.
She wasn't always like that, as a couple memories I have illustrate the theme that things change.
The first story is from 2002. It's around Father's Day, because I remember my uncle asking me if I was going to call my dad and his reaction when I calmly said, "No. Why?" We were all at somebody’s house, helping them move. I don't remember who or a lot of details. Myself and my mom were visiting from Princeton. My uncle was there. My aunt might have been. My other cousin Jessica wasn't there. Jackie was there. I was 15. She was 10.
We weren't really helping much with the moving. We walked down the street to a gas station. We needed candy and caffeine. We loaded up and headed to the register. There was a guy in front of us. He asked for a pack of rolling papers. She asked to see his ID. He didn't have it, so she wouldn't sell it to him.
I guess it depends on the day of the week, how much facial hair I have, and how disheveled I look, but people either think I look a lot older than I do or a lot younger. At this point in my life, I probably have long, super-thick sideburns and likely hadn't shaved for a week. He asks me if I have my ID and is surprised to find out I'm only 15. So, no rolling papers for that guy.
As Jackie and I are leaving the gas station, she looks up at me and innocently asks: "Why would you need your ID to buy paper?" I think for a second about the best way to answer that. "I don’t know," is all I offer.
Fast-forward five years. It is sometime late in 2007. I am 21 and she is 16. My mom and I are visiting my grandpa. A few people are at his house, including Jackie. We're hanging out, bored. There's not much going on. She looks over at me.
Jackie: "Wanna smoke some pot?"
Me: "What?! Okay."
We go outside to a little shed my grandpa has. We go inside. She pulls out a bag of pot. She tells me to hurry up and finish the can of Pepsi I have. Confused, I gulp it down and hand it to her. She crushes it in the middle. I watch in amazement as she grabs a screwdriver and puts a hole in the middle and another near the bottom. "Have you ever seen anybody make a bowl out of a Pepsi can before?" she asks. I hadn't. She hands it to me and asks, "Do you know how to use one of these?"
It's interesting how much things can change in only five years. After she died, I got a tattoo on my chest in memory of her. The tattoo is of the phrase "Keep it on the Up High." Why we said that to each other is kind of a funny story. I told the story in my old blog & I'll get around to telling it again here.