For two summers, I lived with Leslie in Atlanta. Toward the end of my junior year at Smith, she suggested I consider finding a summer job in the south. That I should bag my regular gig as a summer bank teller and do something down there. I could live with her for free, explore an otherwise foreign city and be 800 miles away from my parents. It was a brilliant suggestion. So, in May I secured a position at Emory and in June I drove south to Atlanta.
“I hope you don’t mind but I ate the pasta in the fridge,” I confessed when she came through the door at half past five.
“What pasta?” Leslie asked as she dropped her bag by the breakfast bar and disappeared in the walk-in closet.
“The noodles in the Tupperware. I was starving, sorry.”
Leslie reappeared in her workout gear, short shorts layered beneath a thong leotard. “I haven’t made pasta since April, maybe March.”
“Well, that explains the al dente texture.”
“Wanna go to the gym with me?”
“Just looking at you in that outfit makes me feel bad about my body.”
“You sure?” she asked as she bent at the waist and laced up her Reebok’s, her tush even with my gaze.
“Surer than sure,” I answered as I evaluated the strand of lycra slicing between her butt cheeks.
Leslie and I have always been different. She doesn’t get rattled by little things whereas the mere potential of a blip sends me into a tizzy. When soaking for a pedicure, she reads People. Meanwhile, my nose is buried in a New Yorker. I think green beans taste best raw but she prefers them cooked to a curious brownish tint and then topped with creamy mushroom soup and fake onion crisps. But for as different as we are, we get along flawlessly.
In late July, Leslie came north with Anders and Olivia for a week. We went to the zoo and laughed at the hippos splashing in the water and yelled at the polar bear lazily napping on a slab. We jumped cannonballs off the ledge of the pool and sunned on damp towels to dry off. We went out for lobster dinners and stayed in for greasy pizza pies. And about halfway through the visit, I surrendered to the convenience of temporarily moving into my parent’s house. You know, to be more in the loop of things. And by 'things' I mean after dinner runs to the ice cream parlor.
Just like old times, like those summers when I roomed with Leslie in her one bedroom apartment, we shared a bed in a room we both once called home. Although, last year my mom redid it, swapping out the drapes and removing the piss stained pink rug, something I’d begged her to do before I finally moved out ten years ago. Anyway, at night, when the kids were asleep and the house was quiet, we talked and giggled until one of us claimed utter fatigue.
Now that Leslie’s back in Atlanta and I’m back in my condo, I realize just how much I miss having her around. I envy siblings who can have dinner together on Sunday evening. Or get pedicures side by side on Saturday morning. Sure we talk on the phone and exchange emails but nothing quite tops being a mile down the road or at the other end of the house. Even if it’s to silently curl up on the sofa and read while she’s off in the kitchen making grilled cheese for the kids. Because once they’re fed, she’ll plop down in the armchair next to me, pick up a magazine and start reading. No words are spoken. No ideas are shared. Just two sisters passing the time. Just two good friends being there together.