Veeder: Miss Veeder once more with sister back in Boomtown
My little sister has hair like mine. We sort of walk the same, explaining the way we see the world with our arms flailing toward the sky, our way of putting the exclamation point at the end of our sentences.
We wear the same size shoes, have the same taste in jewelry, we put the same Lutheran Church Lady emphasis on our “ohs” and “yahs,” and because we didn’t do our usual consult before purchase, we now wear the same winter jacket.
Last week, when I was packing frozen chicken, peanut butter, salsa and toilet paper into bags at the grocery store, a small voice chirped up from the other side of the conveyer belt.
“Hi, Miss Veeder,” it said tentatively, coming from a little boy in a flannel shirt with dark eyes under a flop of even darker hair.
My heart melted in a puddle as I caught my breath, pulled my hand up to my chest and then realized that I was not Miss Veeder.
Haven’t been in years.
Miss Veeder is my little sister, a teacher in Boomtown.
I just couldn’t reveal this though. For some reason, with one hand on what was left of my heart and the other grabbing for the cream of chicken soup, I couldn’t think of one reason to correct him, to tell him, “No, I’m not Miss Veeder.”
I’m Miss Veeder’s big sister.
So I smiled and said something I thought Miss Veeder might say. Something really cheerful and teacher-y, like, “Well, hi there. Are you having a fun weekend?”
This isn’t the first time the two of us have been confused in our hometown. When we’re in the same room, we’re quite distinguishable, but when we’re apart we get mistaken.
Alex has a few similar stories about ordering drinks at a bar and being told she looks a lot like that singer chick Jessie Veeder.
Not as cute as my grocery-bagging run-in, but sort of funny, I think.
And probably sort of irritating for a young woman like my little sister who spent the last five years of her life in a city full of people who got to know the person independent of the landscape where she got that scar, that accent, her first kiss and her first speeding ticket.
And now she’s found herself back home, and, well, here we are, ordering drinks and buying frozen peas, wondering how the effort and years spent declaring our individuality could have found us together again and more alike than ever.
It’s funny then that being mistaken for my little sister by a 7-year-old had such an impact on me. It’s days later, and I’m still pondering that little spread of warmth that ran through me and my decision to be Miss Veeder, my sister, for a moment.
Perhaps it was pride in the work that she was doing, that a child was so eager to say hello. It was a little bit of that I know.
But then there was something else, some sort of unexplainable comfort laced in with an ordinary day in a place that grew us up, sent us off and didn’t sit around waiting for us to come home.
Not all hometowns do that, you know.
Not all hometowns make room, have room, for people like us to return.
And not all families get to be there together. But mine is. And on days when I get to town to discover a rip in my dress, I can call my mom at her store and she can save my dignity.
When we’re out of town, Dad will gladly feed our dogs and make sure the cat that’s around here somewhere gets dinner, too.
When I have a big idea, my big sister will be the first on the committee. When I buy her son a toy sword, I can bring it to him and we can play Capt. Hook together.
So I guess that all I’m saying here is that I’m glad, glad that my little sister with hair like mine is laughing and flailing her arms to the pulse of our hometown as it grows to make more room us.
And I was glad to be Miss Veeder for a moment in our hometown grocery store because being Miss Veeder meant that Miss Veeder came home.
Veeder is a musician and writer living with her husband on a ranch near Watford City. Readers can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.