The Jackson Herald
May 30, 2001
A and I
My sister and I are two halves of the same whole. Thirteen months
apart, my mother treated us almost as twins. I could walk and
talk before she was born, but, at her birth, I stopped moving
forward to wait for her to catch up. She potty-trained me, much
to my chagrin. Together we gave up bottles. I have an early picture
of us sitting in my father's easy chair with bottles in our mouths
and teddies in our hands, our pink Strawberry Shortcake pajamas
faded from use. Very few pictures of us exist separate. Until
I went to kindergarten, we never stood far enough apart that
you could capture one without the other.
We shared everything: our toys, our room, our lives. I have no
childhood memories without her and most of my memories are from
two sides--hers and mine.
We were the first grandchildren in both my mother and my father's
families. To them and to my parents' friends, we became "The
Girls," a collective unit. We heard our given names only
when we had done something wrong and sometimes even then the
wrongdoing was often seen as collective. "Girls!" my
grandmother shouted when we lost our shoes in the hay. "Girls!"
my mother screamed when she found us eating pokeberries. "Girls!"
my father yelled when we ate a pint of sour cream thinking it
Growing up collectively also involved identical presents. At
Christmas, April and I opened our presents together. We ripped
into the paper, each trying to reach the gift before the other.
Neither wanting to be the last to know what the gaily wrapped
package contained. At first, they were dolls. Mine usually sported
a blue dress, April's a pink one. Then came dresses and sweaters.
My side of the closet reflected the softer tones of the rainbow
with blues and violets. April's side was more striking with pink
dresses and red sweaters. Once we reached the age when our size
was no longer as apparent, bath soaps and lotions made their
way under the X-mas tree. I was peaches or pears. She was cinnamon
School separated us, but only for a short time each day. We met
other people and pursued other interests, always returning to
each other. No one understood us as well as we did each other.
In our early years, we developed in very different ways. Consciously,
we welded out our existence so each would be dependent on the
other. We represented contrary poles that. Together, formed a
whole, very complex person. I excelled intellectually and loved
to read. She was good in sports and happier among large groups
of people. I was shy and clumsy. She was graceful. She felt loved
when surrounded by many friends, yet I never had the energy to
cultivate more than three friendships at a time. I stuck to the
rules and never disobeyed. She skirted around them with a slickness
that belied her cutesy face and curly blond hair, never fearing
punishments or reprimands. I was sloppy, she was meticulous.
She impulsively charged while I tested the waters. I preferred
peace and she thrived in confrontation.
Physically, we each took after a different side of the family.
April looks like my father's sister -- tall, thin, with hazel
eyes. I took after my mother's Dutch family and am more curvaceous
with brown eyes. We both have my mother's blond hair but in different
shades and textures. She has wavy, golden blond locks, which
contrasts with my much straighter and darker hair. But, overwhelmingly,
we look into each others' very different eyes with different
perspectives and we speak with the same voice, identical in tone
and diction. It's amazing that in all of the differences, we
have such a striking similarity that when our parents hear us
speak they can't tell us apart. Our voices -- products of geography
and genetics -- betray our identicality as nothing else does.
When we were young, we entertained our parents' friends with
tales of an idyllic future. I'm sure they secretly laughed at
our naiveté in thinking that we would live together forever,
yet I know they envied us, too, for our unspoken understanding
of one another and our unbroken youth. We dreamed that I would
become a doctor and pay all of the bills while she would try
to make a go of it as an actress because she loved to sing and
be the center of attention. I kidded her about having to keep
our house clean. She begged me to wait a year when I graduated
from high school so that we could go to college and room together.
We didn't think ahead to men and marriage and how that would
change our perfectly ordered future.
Eventually, years later, it dawned on us that boys become men
and men marry women. We modified our plan and spent the summer
drawing maps of our houses. We each wanted different things,
but, as always, we compromised and before August we had a set
plan. We would buy acres of land in a remote place. The driveway
would be hidden from the road so that we could create our own
private Eden. A tall fence would enclose the property and allow
plenty of room for our six horses to run. Once a car entered
the gate, it had to park and either ride a horse to the houses
or else drive one of the four-wheelers that would be conveniently
parked there. Our houses would be slightly set apart with trees
and fields all around. Our children would always get along and
our nameless husbands would work hard. We would home school our
children together so that nothing from the outside world would
intrude upon our peace. We decorated our large map with stubby
purple flowers and a cloudless sky colored in blue.
I don't know exactly when the dream ended. Maybe it is still
there, in the back of my mind, tucked behind the taste of pokeberries.
The separateness that had at one time marked us a well-planned
team, began to alienate us from one another. We grew and changed
into more complete people, independent of one another. A and
I don't speak of our bygone dreams of cohabitation. I still hope
that someday my husband and I will buy enough land so that we
can build our two houses in a row, but I don't think it will
ever happen. I recognize that childhood dreams don't come true
-- the pot of gold is not at the other end of the rainbow. Life
happens. I don't regret growing up. I have more than my share
of fond memories -- late-night chats, an accidental bloody nose,
huckleberries on the warm hillside. I had someone to laugh with,
cry with, and love with -- my baby sister, my other side.
Rochelle Beckstine is a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers.
The Jackson Herald
May 30, 2001
athletes, not realignment
Looking back on the 2000-01 school year, it's hard not to be
reminded of the old cheer, "It's great to be a Dragon fan."
Regardless of what the placemat at the Chinese restaurant says,
it was definitely the Year of the Dragon.
There are those who attribute Jefferson's success this year in
athletics to the GHSA realignment of 2000 that dropped the number
of Class A schools from 106 to 73, and only a fool would totally
discount the effects of so immense a change.
Still, even realignment can't account for the unprecedented level
of success enjoyed by Dragon sports teams during the past year.
A closer look at each sport provides glimpse into that fact.
Let's take a look at the three state championship seasons, though
the case could also be made in other sports.
Girls' basketball. Of the 32 teams that qualified for the state
playoffs a year ago, 15 moved up at least one classification.
It's also worth noting that of the four finalists in the 2001
Class A and Class AA tournaments, three (Jefferson, Wesleyan
and Greater Atlanta Christian) had been in Region 8-A a year
earlier. On the surface, realignment seems to have helped the
Lady Dragons immensely. But let's look closer.
The margins of victory in both the Class A and Class AA tournaments
left little doubt as to who the best teams were, at least until
the finals. The fact that GAC cruised to the Class AA title,
combined with the fact that Jefferson narrowly defeated GAC during
the final week of the regular season, proves that Jefferson and
GAC were at least on the same level, and that Jefferson probably
would have had little trouble reaching at least the semifinals
even in Class AA this year. Basically, the only effect on Jefferson's
title run would have been they might have had to down both GAC
and Wesleyan to win, rather than just one. Not easy, but still
doable. And still at least a final four team.
Slow-pitch softball. Jefferson had also reached Columbus in 1999,
and only two of the eight teams from that year's quarterfinals
moved up after reclassification. Granted, one of those two was
champion Telfair County, but the Trojans had lost during the
tournament to runner-up Calvary Baptist, who Jefferson defeated
in this year's tournament. Again, not as easy a ride, but certainly
doable, and almost surely a state finalist at least.
Wrestling. This won't be a popular statement, but without Lovett's
move into Class AAA last year, Jefferson would have been runner-up
again in 2001. The Lions easily recovered from their jump up
two classifications by convincingly winning the 2001 Class AAA
title. But Jefferson would still have been in the top four, and
The point being this: the GHSA realignment surely played a role
in the overwhelming success of Jefferson's athletic programs
in 2000-01, but not nearly as big a role as the incredibly talented
Dragon athletes. Congratulations to you all.
Tim Thomas is a reporter for The Jackson
Herald. He may be reached at the sports desk at 367-2348, or
via email at SpeckCh@aol.com
Jackson County Opinion Index