I love Fiddler on the Roof, it may be one of my top ten favorite musicals. But this blog really isn't about musicals but about traditions and my love for them. For instance my family always goes to 4:00 mass on Christmas Eve and then we return home for a huge Christmas Eve dinner. My mom and I for the last 15 years have been taking a summer vacation together, just us girls where we do all sorts of things that the men in our family would hate, and we laugh about it.
Memorial Day is also one of those days steeped in tradition for me. It's where every year for the last 35+ years my friend MJ and I meet at the end of the street we grew up on (where my parents, and her mom still live) to watch our hometown Memorial Day parade. In terms of parades this is a great one. Lots of fire trucks, girl scout and boy scout groups and the local high school bands. There are three actually the two public schools that are located in the the village and the all girls Catholic school that I attended. My school's band is clearly the best of the three. You may think I'm bragging, but it's true they are an outstanding band have recently performed in one of the Disney parades and in Washington during the inauguration for President Obama.
But I digress, this is not about which of the local high schools has the best band, but about friendship and tradition. MJ is my oldest and dearest friends she was the only other girl, my age on our street growing up. We were surrounded by boys and the two of us were in fact tomboys, we were viscous kick ball, 4 square, and kick the can players. Except when we weren't. We tried gymnastics together and together we failed miserably. We both continue to hang our heads in shame that neither one of us ever mastered a cartwheel. We tried synchronized swimming for a summer, we were better at this, but we decided at the end of the summer it wasn't for us. Neither one of us was real excited about the thought of putting jello in our hair for performances.
MJ would say she saved my life once. I tripped and fell in the middle of a 4 lane road as we were walking to the drug store to get our daily pixie sticks. Instead of waiting for me to try to get up MJ dragged me safely to the other side of the street. "You could have been killed by that El Camino" she stated as the rusty looking car/truck slowly drove by us. "Yeah, but wasn't that your brother Dan?" I asked. "I'm pretty sure he would have stopped before he hit me."
She was also with me the day I was taken home in shame in the back of a police car. Our plan that summer morning was to go to the local public swimming pool. My backyard pool was not sufficient that morning, we wanted to practice our diving off the high board. So we threw on our bathing suits and jumped on our bikes and headed for the local pool. The local pool is located at the bottom of a very steep hill on a very busy 6 lane road. We were not allowed to cross this road but fortunately for us at the bottom of the hill was a pedestrian bridge that our parent's deemed safe. "I dare you to pedal down the hill, instead of just coasting" MJ said to me. Never one to refuse a dare I agreed and took off. Big mistake. I flew down that hill and lost control of my bike flying over the handlebars and rolling the rest of the way. I was bloody from head to toe. A local police officer happened upon us and decided that I was in no condition to ride home and instead opened the back of his cruiser and so began my first and what I'm pretty sure will be my last ride in the back of a police cruiser.
So this Monday, MJ and I will sit on the corner of our street surrounded by other friends, neighbors and family we will reminisce about the year we sold balloons in the parade for 50 cents while this years hawkers are charging $5.00 for a can of silly string and $10.00 for crazy Dr. Seuss like hats with what appears to be a marijuana print on them. I will remind her of the summer I wanted to be blond and we used sun-in to achieve that goal. She'll remind me of when the two of us along with our brothers stretched Stretch Armstrong a little too far and his insides oozed out all over my parents bedroom and how Stretches sticky insides got all over her hair and how it needed to be cut because it couldn't be removed any other way.
We will laugh at the fact that one year when we decided to attend VBS together the pastor asked me to leave because I was talking to much. He told me I could come back the next day if I could be quieter. Neither one of remembers is we went back. My mom insists that we did. We'll shake our heads over the fact that the first boy either one of us ever kissed was the same boy. He's long gone of course but our friendship remains. At the end of the parade we will walk home together and insist that we need to get together more often and like most summers we may catch up a few times but if we don't we know where to find each other on Memorial Day.