happy birthday b.

“I gotta go,” I squealed. I was 4 years old, skinny with dark hair, pale skin and big brown eyes. “I gotta go too,” said B. She was 5 years old, skinny with blond hair and brown eyes. We were beautiful together, the little girl version of yin and yang. “Let’s go together,” one of us said. So we raced to the upstairs bathroom, got ready and sat down together to pee. We were giddy. This was silly. We were peeing together, our tiny bottoms sharing one toilet. Our mothers thought it was precious. This was our cousin thing, a little girl bonding time. One mother grabbed a camera and flashed our picture, B. with her long blond hair and legs together facing the bathtub, me with my long brown hair and legs together facing the wall. We are squeezed in, our hands holding on to the tips of the oval seat so we wouldn’t fall in or off. Our clothes are simple knits, me in white, B. in dark blue; our shorts stuck to our legs have appliqué. We are gorgeous. We are smiling. We are young. We are silly. We are happy.

It is one of my favorite pictures, B. and I concocting a simple plan to kill two birds with one stone. I’m so glad there is a picture of that innocent time. Sometimes B. and I will talk about our childhoods, how we grew up so differently yet share so much in common. She is my blond size 2 cousin. I am not her. She is a modified hippie. I am an ex-sorority girl. Her mom is young and the least neurotic of her sisters. My mom is not. But we both have a factor in our blood that causes blood clots. So do our mothers. We are so different and so similar. I am proud of her, that she is a brilliant photographer. I love that she loves her animals and plants like they are her children. I’m glad she has found a man in a fairytale way, which we always dreamed would happen. I love that she is strong and kind and knows more than she tells. And I love that sometimes she will say, with laughter in her voice, “Anna, we use to pee together!” “I know,” I say, laughing back, “I know.”

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