If you allow it, a person—young or old—can come in and bless your soul, change your life. Allie did that for me. She was my much younger sister, not by blood but by spirit. My junior year of high school Allie was born, and my dad raised her for the first five years of her life. I called her Wild Child Allie. In that short amount of time, she taught me that we all have an inner wild child—berry-stained hands and pine needles in our hair.
Allie spent a lot of her toddler days with Aunt Patsy, a funny old lady with an oxygen tank in tow. Patsy must have given Allie a few hits because she developed a hilarious resemblance to a drunken hillbilly—slurring her speech at times and dropping her head from side to side when she told her stories. Little Allie said things like “Oh, hell,” when she stumped her toe, and shouted “what’s the problem, what’s the problem?” at herself when she was noticeably clumsy.
Allie’s imagination reminded me of my own, and I always felt we understood each other. One college weekend I drove back home to see four-year-old Allie. I picked her up at my dad’s, who was then living in a camper in the country. Allie was at home out there. In the midst of pine and dirt. She loved raccoons, and in the summer nights she sat outside on the cinder blocks, feeding coons hot dog wieners, and informing them of God and Santa Claus.
I loaded her and her pet lizard into my car and explained that she had to wear a seat belt and remain seated on her bottom the entire car ride.
“What Crazy Crazy? Are you serious?!”
Yeah, I’m the crazy one.
That car ride was the best though. I learned so much. Like what her favorite shampoo was at the time—Ritz.
Allie: “Hey, guess what?”
Me: “You’re crazy, and I’m not.”
Allie: “Uh, no. But I have L-I-C-E”
Me: “Oooohh, that’s interesting. So you can spell, huh?”
Or how God comes bearing gifts.
Allie: “Oh my god! I just saw God on the roof.”
Me: “haha, what? Where?”
Allie: “Oh. We passed him, but he was back there. I swear, swear.”
Me: “Wow, you can see God?”
Allie: “Yeah, silly.”
Me: “Well, why do you think He was on that person’s roof?”
Allie: “I bet that person’s been good. They’re gonna get presents.”
Me: “Wait, Santa?”
Allie: (infuriated): “Nooo. God! Ugh.”
When we arrived at my “used-to-be-home” now labeled “Mom’s,” it was late, and I could see we were both ready for bed, but the girl had L-I-C-E. I wrapped her little head in saran wrap, twisting it toward the front and sealing it with a clothespin. I could see from the amount of time she spent looking at it in the mirror that she was uncomfortable. More appalled at the reflection than uncomfortable.
“Jeez, that’s cool looking,” I said. “I think Ima do it too.”
So into bed the saran-wrap sisters climbed when she suddenly shrieked, “I need clean underwear!” Now? Really? I thought she had had an accident, but she hadn’t. She just demanded to have clean underwear before she went to bed. Ha, I get it. Tired and out of ideas, I went and retrieved some big sister panties, convinced her to put them on and tied them to the side with a hair scrunchy. She was already in my oversized underwear so when she asked for one of my t-shirts to sleep in, I gave it no thought. “Allie, what’s mine is yours, I’m guessing.” “Yeah, duh. We’re sisters.” Saran-wrap sisters.