When Jesus called you Rosalie

When Jesus called you Rosalie

A Story by Madeline Capo

Hagerstown, Maryland was a nice place to grow up�"the family was all together then and this is the location of most of your fondest memories and biggest laughs. It’s where your mom grounded you for smoking in the bathroom with Susan after she read your diary even though it was locked in your room; its where Mark tightly gripped your hand, leading you down the stairs of your house on prom night; it’s where your headgear never got in the way of your ability to spike over the net, faster than the girls on the other side could manage to raise their hands in defense. You think this may have been the best time in your life, but then you think back to your friends on the base, mid-afternoon Italian air, field trips to the Swiss alps, and you’re sure you would trade anything in the world to have the 1970’s back for just one day. Long, dark pin straight hair hanging over a metal fence, converse lases peeking through between the spaces, and the biggest white crooked grin you’ve ever seen�"innocence plus the few tiny freckles that softly spread themselves over your nose defined your beauty. All of your brothers had hair like yours, just as long but with less split ends, and it wasn’t weird because it was the 70’s and everything was weird.

            Mercedes, Nino, Jack, Angela, Marty, Vincent, and you�"the loudest, closest Sicilian family God could have ever thought up. Growing up a Tomasino was your favorite part about growing up. Looking back now, I see the hurt in your eyes and the wavering sound in your voice when you explain to me how… “it’s funny…. memories can form big bubbles of pictures and faces and food and laughs and dreams in your mind and allow yourself to long like you’ve never longed before…. long for just a moment, if I could only have this little one back. And even though you know it’s not possible, you lay up in bed thinking of the ‘what ifs’ of time travel, a button where you can choose the place and another where you can type in a description, moments later landing in that exact spot. And if NASA or some robot in 2050 announces this as reality, you look at me pointedly and tell me to dig you up out of your grave to enter: “Italy. 1975. In my mom’s arms.”

            Maybe Vincent had already started cheating on Marty by this time, and the other way around too, but you didn’t know. Mercedes would reveal everything to you later on, as being the oldest automatically meant she knew every little secret, no matter how conscientious mom and dad thought they were being. She was your favorite, no question. Wise and beautiful and talented and kind. The breast cancer that would infect her spirit and body later didn’t make sense to you, but you held her hand down to her last seconds anyways. At the time, you didn’t understand why certain vibes in the house had shifted, but the last thing you could imagine were any hints of infidelity. You turned the big 1-8 that year and everyone was looking at you differently now, and you kind of felt different�"pseudo-adulthood had approached and you were smoking more cigarettes than ever. That particular night, the smoke inside your lungs filled a car full of some girlfriends, and your best friend, Elizabeth. You were in the backseat with her as another friend, whose name forgotten in the cloud of dark smoke, irrelevant now, was driving down the highway. You faintly remember peering at the neon green clock light from the back, “11:30pm,” hearing mom’s voice in your head saying something about not breaking your 12pm curfew. You quickly reminded your friend who was driving that you needed to be dropped off first because your mom was a Nazi. She shook her head in understanding�"that’s why you call it pseudo-adulthood. You hugged Elizabeth goodbye and thanked the other girls. The real adulthood experience, the one with the tears and the mental breakdowns, yeah that one happened later that night�"when Elizabeth’s mom called to explain the drunk driving accident that had killed your best friend and her daughter instantly.  

            Coke had replaced Elizabeth and you thought it a good companion for the most part, besides it being so damn expensive and you being broke. Tyler was also there and made it easier for you to get, but he also got on your nerves more than you enjoyed spending time with him, but you decided to start convincing yourself that despite it all, you loved him. After all, Vincent and Marty had taught you the meaning of love a long time ago and all you’ve tried to do is live after their example. Honor thy father and mother, right? Being raised Catholic will teach you something. They are officially split up now and maybe the heavy eyeliner, blonde streak, and Pink Floyd earrings let the public know too much�"they kinda scream “I’m a child of a broken home, depressed, and looking to buy.” Tyler had the bright idea to propose to you that year and not even the best coke in the universe could make you commit to him long-term. It was barely a year before you broke off the engagement. You blame Elizabeth’s mom for your current mental state, calling you out at the funeral, saying it was your fault, that everything is your fault. “Youuuu-you should’ve been the one to stay in the car” she yells. Every night you dream of the green clock light and Elizabeth’s nicotine-scented hair blowing wildly out the car window.

            You were always a child of the sun, even though you didn’t start living in Florida until your early 20’s. When it was hot and you were by some body of water you were more alive. You were a little more mature now too, the streak was fading with your depression and some light was starting to return to your eyes. Your olive oil skin soaked up the bright Floridian sun like a sponge, but you never burnt. It felt like 100 degrees the day you got your first job. All you wanted was a cold beer or something refreshing, and what you got was a career. You had asked them when you walked in if they happened to be hiring because you had always heard Costco was a great company to work for, and maybe it was the barefoot-sun kissed-remaining mascara-tanning oil look that made you more employable, but regardless he hired you on the spot.

            You weren’t exactly interested in Richard, but he had offered you a free ticket to the Paul McCartney concert and you could pretend for a night. “Hey my brother Bobby is gonna join us if that’s okay,” Rich said. Yes, you thought, this isn’t a date. He drove down Hollywood Boulevard to pick up his brother, the night was perfectly crisp so you tucked your hand under the window crack and stretched out your fingers towards the clouds. Your expectations were always low.

You can’t explain the feelings that came after the first moment you saw him, but you know a small part�"something about him�"saved your life. In your soul something woke up when you watched his seatbelt click into its spot, in the same way the ring slid like butter onto your finger and yes slowly crawled from your lips when he asked you to marry him on his bed. Christmas Eve, 1992. You kinda looked like a poodle on your wedding day, hair as big as heaven, but your eyes were even brighter than before and you were the happiest you’ve ever been. I laugh when I look at those pictures nowadays. Joy and love were two things you had re-learned through someone who knew how to properly live them out. You thought this was the best it could ever get�"until you held me for the first time. And Jess. When Jesus called you Rosalie, some angel working overtime had already known the plot of your life, deciding you needed two daughters and I needed you and my uncle’s brother as mom and dad. Twenty-one years later I have gathered the broken pieces of your story and have become so much more whole. It’s funny how revolutions around the sun form lives and memories and deaths and brokenness. But like the setting and rising of it, one thing I know for sure is that we are kindred spirits. Sun children, giving life to one another, mother and daughter, re-birth through a first born.            

© 2018 Madeline Capo

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Added on February 2, 2018
Last Updated on February 2, 2018


Madeline Capo
Madeline Capo

Barcelona , Catalonia , Spain