Beginning my oral hygiene routine each evening and morning, I always think of you as a sunny little five year old, calmly smiling, nursing your cup of cherry Kool-Aid and plotting your next activation plan as your feet dangle loosely in the Maine air, bangs shaved crazily off in a fit of Barbie-related grievance. I know that one day you will replace my beloved Jasmine Barbie you so cruelly scalped, along with yourself and Skipper, while our redheaded babysitter was watching MTV in the next room with a handful of my favorite potato chips.
I think of you, wackily shorn, gallavanting about the kitchen with mom's bra tied on, stealing house keys to keep in your room. I think of your strong little brown feet kicking me in the shins, and your little brown hands carrying an entire cucumber around the house to gnaw on throughout the day.
In the dorm's communal bathroom, in my apartment bathroom, in the homes of others, at girl's camp, I think of you. I think of you and wonder in shivering anticipation if you chose to reprise your brilliant prank and have once again added flakes from that stick-shaped wetness protector to the bristles that will soon massage my oversized carnassials. I wonder this even when there is no physical way, minus apparating, that you could have gotten to my toothbrush.
Although it has been twelve years since you did this to me, each morning, without fail, I wince as my toothbrush makes its way to my mouth, wondering if it will greet me with that terrifying sensation of sucking dryness, clapping my gums together in a bunch so tight that it takes two hands to get the toothbrush back out of my dryly-locked lips and dozens of rinses to remove all the active deodorizing ingredients and gelling agents from in between each tooth.
Without you, I would be void of a sense of patience, of humor, of intense periods of hyperactivity, and I would be disbelieving of the fact that one human being under the age of ten could think to combine deodorant and mouth.
To my sister on her graduation day: be good, kiddo. I'm proud of you!
(photo courtesy of alyssa cook photography)