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to my sister, on her birthday.

1 March 2011

“If you don’t understand how a woman could both love her sister dearly and want to wring her neck at the same time, then you were probably an only child.”

— Linda Sunshine

my sister and i always joke that we are the venn diagram of siblings — so many areas that we disagree, with some key overlapping in the middle.  i like whiny college indie rock; she prefers the sounds of the latest band that sounds like three doors down and other bands with names that sound like they put a slew of magnetic poetry pieces in a bag and drew three words randomly.  i like my toms shoes; she feels that i stole them from an ugly gnome.  my wedding colors were grey and yellow; these colors make her feel grey and turn yellow.  i often wait (sometimes entirely too long) to say what i think; people immediately know how she feels about them.  i acquire friends over a long time, like moss growing on a rock that makes sure to stay very, very still so that it can be found easily; anyone who interacts with her for exactly 2 minutes each day at her job (her regulars) takes a great liking to her and would probably, if asked, do any amount of favors for her.  she enjoys vampires and related literature; we all know where i stand on vampires (and related “literature”, if we’re going to just bandy that word about loosely).   we both adore eddie izzard and can quote him ad nauseam (emphasis on the nauseam to people, i’m sure).  love 80’s music, and ABBA.  the godfather.  find mean people absolutely distasteful.  seem to be less sensitive on the outside, but are incredibly sensitive on the inside.  love summit county as a vacation spot.

i forgive her when she makes me mad with her forceful personality.

she forgives me when i get tunneled into my own world and forget to call her and be nice.

these disagreements, they happen amidst a steady, unwavering love and care.  not love that takes a break when we’re at odds (which isn’t often), but love WHILE at odds.

this, this is a sister.

“Sisters function as safety nets in a chaotic world simply by being there for each other.”

— Carol Saline

many years ago, i was making some less than stellar decisions in my personal life.  having an acute guilty conscience, i became quickly fearful that i might have irrevocably ruined my life, and although i had many friends at the time, was absolutely mortified to discuss these roadblocks with anyone.  i didn’t really understand what real friends were at the time, holding many of them at arm’s length to preserve what i thought was how they needed me to be (some image of perfection), then not understanding why these same friends felt closer to everyone else than me.  ahh, early-twenties, i’m glad to be distanced from you.  nevertheless, despite the fact that i wouldn’t have considered my sister and i to be close (reference: differences above), when i frantically fumbled with my phone looking for a number to call, only one entirely judgment-free name came up on my contact list:


she answered, as she always did then (today i’m more apt to catch her by text or a call back as we both can’t seem to find our phone fast enough to answer).  she could hear the worry in my voice, and did exactly what i needed her to do:

invited me to the bar she worked at to drink with a bunch of drag queens.

what?  isn’t that what your sister does?

she let me commiserate and whine and lament and render my garments amidst gnashing of teeth and rolling in the dirt.  okay, she didn’t really let me do three of those things, but i’ll let your imagination pick which ones.

after, i felt better.  we didn’t solve any of my problems, some of which continued to be problems until i got my head out of the sand years later; we didn’t become magically best friends that night…we were something better: sisters.  she never has judged me, made me feel bad for anything, yet never let me get by with being stupid.

how she’s able to do this?  i’m not entirely sure…but it works.

“A sister shares childhood memories and grown-up dreams.”

— Author Unknown

my sister can make me laugh by repeating singular phrases from our past (some not so far away): “handi-cop!”, “no ice, no coke”, “lunchbox can haul ass”, “do you have a flag?”…

it’s not just these shared memories, but her willingness and even eagerness to relive them with me makes me feel known and rooted.  turning on the music we listened to as we drove to a cousin’s funeral years ago, not really knowing how to handle death except to laugh and have a good time, brings us back to times we cherish now as we get older.

these new memories change — longer talks on the phone.  bringing new significant people over and awaiting approval of our choices.  stolen looks over the table at the crazy things that happen around us at restaurants (we always seem to get seated by the crazies!).  changing our minds about careers about 8 different times.  quitting jobs at the same times; finding new ones in similar tandem.

but the thing that doesn’t change is that no matter how far i paddle away from shore, my sister is easy to find, like a beacon through the fog that reminds me where home is; where i always want to be.

so to my sister on her birthday, i love you the very mostest, always.

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