Today, July 31st, my sister turns 28 years old.  Which is amazing, because filed right behind the memory of her giving birth to my niece, E!, is the memory of her as an 8-year old in pigtails whose sole life mission was to invade my personal space and irritate the living daylights out of me. 

At that time, she would sing television commercial jingles.  All. The. Time.  So it comes as no surprise that she ended up getting a degree in Radio, Television, and Film.  And like her sister before her, now works in an industry completely unrelated to the one for which the degree was sought.  Which reminds me of one of the lessons I’ll teach our kid(s): The degree will open a few doors, yes, but your jobs will depend entirely on your willingness to work, your ability to be flexible, your desire to keep learning, and the people you know. 

Some of my think-on-your-feet skills, I owe entirely to being an older sister to a sibling 5 years younger.  For example, she would never shut up.  EVER.  To be conceived from two of the most introverted, passive adults on earth, I couldn’t ever figure it out.  (Until I started taking closer note of the social night-owls that is the rest of my mother’s family).  So the day my sister came wondering to me why it was that our parents and I had light colored eyes and she had brown eyes, nevermind that our older brother also had brown eyes, I told her it was because she was adopted.

I got in trouble for that one.

I also owe some of my think-outside-the-box skills to her. Telling her to be quiet, or please leave me alone, or get out, or shut up DID. NOT. WORK.  You know that mosquito that gets into your car and manages to bite you several times on your way to work?

EXACTLY.

So I got the idea to tell her I could turn my ears off.  Just like that.  And although the effort of completely ignoring a younger sibling incessantly talking or singing in my too-cool adolescent vicinity took more time and effort than, say, a sock and duct tape, it is what worked without me getting grounded for life.  Unable to elicit a response, she’d go prey on someone else.  Thanks be to God. 

I was constantly telling her not to touch me.  She’d be all in my space, encroaching like weeds.  And when I told her not to, she’d stick out her index finger and hold it very very very very very very close to my being, because if she wasn’t touching me, then I couldn’t tell her not to touch me. 

But despite me being completely self-absorbed and oftentimes downright mean, her physical presence was constant. Little did I know then that the more space I wanted between us, the closer she wanted to get.

And then I went off to college.  And she started growing up without me knowing. I missed her first broken heart. And then I moved to another state to go to graduate school. But, you know, by that time, I was busy emotionally stiff-arming my family in anticipation of overt alienation when I’d come out. Because if I did the alienating, then it wouldn’t hurt as much, right? Which leads me to the more recent-by-a-decade memory of my sister – which is the one where she stood by my side in my coming out.

And that was the biggest fucking deal. EVER.

All those times that bony little index finger dancing millimeters from my being, and she ended up the grounding rod, that I swear to God, to this day, that moment was probably single-handedly the boomerang that brought me back into relationship with my family, and to a large extent, that moment of welcoming and unconditional love probably even saved me from myself. Red rover, red rover.

Now, I can’t get enough of her.  She’s funny. She’s smart. She’s a smartass. We live 3 hours away from each other and last week while she was in New York City- I missed her. We have dreams of raising our children together. Of having a financial planning business together – with a day care center built in. Now it is such that with the space we have between us geographically, the closer I want to get. 

My, how the tables have turned.  Except that she’s not stiff-arming me.Today, I’d want her in my room all the time. I wouldn’t even put that McDonald’s happy meal toy on the inside doorknob to announce to me she had entered my room. You, know, when it fell to the ground and I’d be able to hear it downstairs.

Yes.

I did that.

Now?

Now, I’d leave the door wide open.

Happy Birthday, little sister.  I love you.

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 Hammin’ it up at the Brother’s nuptials.

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