Thing 1/25: I haven't eaten a Nilla Wafer in 25 years because, while I love them, I love my sister more.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
When I was 11 years old my mom, sister and I went to Europe during Summer vacation. During the days we'd see the most amazing things: the canals at Venice, the Colosseum, Pompeii, the leaning tower of Pisa. As amazing as the daytime sights were, sleeping in a different and very foreign place each night had quite an effect on my dreams. Some of the dreams I had while on this three week trip were some of the strangest and most vivid of my life. Two dreams in particular stuck in my memory past the break of day, and indeed stay with me even now. The first was easily understood and relevant. Two nights before we were to travel to Pisa, I dreamt that my sister Susie and I were climbing the stairs inside the tower and, about halfway up, she ventured outside of the inner spiral to the columns that line the perimeter of each story. I dreamt that while perched on the slanted surface she slipped and fell the long and uninterrupted distance to the ground below. Sure that she was critically injured, I ran to the edge and peeked over, to find that somehow she had only broken her arm. Actually visiting the leaning tower of Pisa two days later, she and I were walking up the stairs that looked exactly as I had pictured them, and about halfway up she wanted to venture outside the spiral staircase, just as she did in my dream. Though Susie was two years my elder, and not in the habit of taking direction from me, I begged her not to go out to the edge, even as I didn't tell her why, worried that I would sound silly or would be ignored. I asked her to trust me and not go out at that point, and we went to the top and looked out from the top railing. We even climbed the ladder to the higher inner ledge and, while I was naturally scared and cautious, I didn't have any portents about this part, so it was just normal everyday terror. This episode (and Pisa) past, we journeyed on to Florence. Another city, another hotel, another bed, and another portentous dream, just as vivid but entirely different than the last. Unlike the Pisa falling dream, which had a narrative, a clear position in time and space, an action and a consequence, this dream was much more a simple moment floating outside of any time I could define. Maybe it was tomorrow, maybe decades later. The dream was this: I was someplace (I don't have any recollection where) and I was eating a few Nilla wafers. While I was in the middle of eating one, someone rushed up to me and told me that my sister had died. That's it. The dream lasted all of 10 seconds and had only two salient details: My Nilla wafers and my sister's passing. I woke up suddenly in the middle of the night in the room that the three of us were sharing, and I could see that she was fine, sleeping peacefully. I have a hard time breaking habits or curbing desires. It took me years to stop sucking my thumb as a young child, and I still have poor willpower when it comes to desserts, but to this day, and forevermore, I have not and will not eat a Nilla wafer. My sister doesn't know about this. I've never told her. She doesn't regularly read my blog, so I don't know whether she'll hear the story due to my sharing it here, but who knows. It's something I do for her because I love her. It's not really the kind of thing you talk about. It doesn't really come up in conversation. To my recollection the only people who knew before this post were my ex-girlfriends Karen and Emily, and my wife Rachel. They've all watched out for me, knowing not to bring any into our home, and helping me steer clear from desserts that happen to have Nilla wafers, crumbled or otherwise, in them. A Japanese restaurant in Jack London Square with an amazing Bananas Foster comes to mind. I always order it specifically without the Nilla wafers that are otherwise added in. I won't eat generic knock-offs. I can still picture the taste of them, and there's nothing quite like them, but I feel pretty much nothing as I walk by them in the supermarket. We had shared good times together, but me and Nilla wafers have taken different paths, and will not cross again, because I love my sister too much to chance it, no matter how ridiculous that may sound. Oh, and if you read this and ever try to slip me one as a joke, don't even think about it.
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