Today is Traci Renee’s birthday, and after sending her a piddly little MySpace birthday greeting I was thinking more about her. Quite some time ago, her mom Robin sent me a picture from what I believe was Traci’s sixth birthday. There was a party in her backyard, and Beau and I both attended.
Here we are below. Beau and I were watching as Traci opened her gifts. I am wearing an outfit that could have only been chosen by yours truly, and I was extremely jealous of both her party dress and the gift that she had just opened:
I’m not sure if she remembers it or not, but I can remember the day I first met Traci. I was five, and my mom and I had recently moved out of our roach-infested apartment and into a tiny little white house. I was happy because I could run through our neighbors’ backyards and get to my grandparents’ house. It was one such day in late summer when I was running home that I saw two little girls—Traci and her older sister Christel—in their backyard. Their family was obviously just moving in; it was just short of when Traci and I would both start kindergarten at Simpson Elementary.
I wanted to play with these new little girls terribly. I was an extremely shy and rather lonely little girl, so I hid behind a tree in their yard to watch them. They were eating McDonald’s Happy Meals on a table in the backyard. They called to me and invited me to come out and tell them my name, but I ducked further behind the tree. Embarrassingly, Christel lured me out by jiggling some French fries at me invitingly. (My God, that is a humbling thought.) We became fast friends after that.
I have so many memories of playing with them for the next few years, but I’ll just mention a few of my favorites.
I remember tormenting my cranky, elderly neighbor Lucille, and the dirty old man who lived across the street (“Horny Butt.” He had that name for a good reason.)
I remember their sweet Dukes of Hazzard swimming pool. It had pictures of Bo, Luke, Daisy, Uncle Jesse, Boss Hog—everyone—in it, and we would argue over who got to sit on Bo’s face. (We were dirty little girls; we fully realized the double entendre.)
We used to love to play “Witchy.” This basically involved gathering weird berries and anything else we considered fit to put into a magic potion and squishing it up into a paste and daring each other to eat it.
Traci and I invented a game that I always called the “Kill Your Family” game. We had a favorite red maple tree in Traci’s backyard. One of us would climb the tree and sit on the low branches, dropping leaves one by one; the other had to stand on the ground and catch the leaves. Each leaf represented a member of the person’s family. I’d cry, “This is your dad! This is your aunt Kathy!” If Traci didn’t catch the leaf for that person, they were dead. The winner was the one with the most “living” family members left.
I remember that Traci taught me to ride a bike. I desperately wanted to ditch my Cabbage Patch Bike with training wheels and a banana seat to be able to ride her BMX. It took me so long to learn. She showed me over and over again how to do it, and one day it clicked and I went sailing down Olive Street crying, “Do you see me!? I’m doing it! I’m doing it!”
I remember playing Barbies with Christel and Traci on their front porch, especially when it rained. They had a little pink Barbie nightie with a blonde-headed Barbie face on it that our Barbies liked to wear when they were going to be having sex that night. We always disputed whose Barbie’s turn it was to wear the nightie. The stakes were important: no nightie = no Barbie getting laid.
Obviously, everyone knows the story of me punching her for snatching the magic wand I was playing with out of my hand. (I still maintain that it was my turn.) And, uh, I’m sorry about that, Traci. In case I didn’t say that 24 years ago. But you deserved it.
I thought I’d throw in a couple more old pictures, just for fun.
Our elementary school:
My old house:
Traci’s old house:
Our favorite climbing tree that has since been cut down as Traci and Beau’s old houses have been merged into one giant monstrosity. This was also the site of the “Kill Your Family” game:
Anyway, to make a long story short: Happy, happy birthday, Traci Renee! Much love.