Friday, April 16, 2010


Well, my sister is moving. She's spent every day this week at the new house, sanding, priming, painting, directing traffic for new windows and hardwood floors. It's fun seeing Amy in her element again - interior decorating and ruling her own roost. I haven't seen her this happy since I've been here. The stress of house hunting is a roller coaster I've not ridden, but I can feel she's finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I can see it too, glowing on her smiling face. It's a beautiful thing to behold.
Living in a house with this many people has its challenges. Heads butt, tempers flare, TV remotes get lost, internet slows, and nerves frazzle. There are a lot of big personalities in my family. I don't mean mean big as in flashy, flamboyant, or even wanting attention (with the exception of me, of course). I mean commanding, leading personalities. Too many chiefs and not enough Indians. I don't know how we came to be this family of introverts (with the exception of me, of course), who, when they do decide to speak do so with a voice of authority that resents being questioned. Maybe it's the military's influence. We're all experts in something, be it grammar, music, law or childcare. And woe unto the person who disagrees!

My sister and I are no different. I can't say I'm not a little jealous of her recent good fortune, and she'd probably say she's a little jealous of aspects of my life. Jealousy is a funny little thing. Contrary to what we might think, it is never one-sided. Opportunity, exceptionalism, and greener grasses have come between us more than once in our adulthood. So have differing opinions and an inability to courteously disagree. In the end we're sisters, and we love each other, but dammit if we don't want to just . . . grrrr sometimes, you know? :)

She is the conservative but bold, independent and headstrong first child who took control of her life at 18, and hasn't relinquished that control since. Botanist. Airborne Army officer. Mother of two healthy, rambunctious boys. She moved to the East coast and for 20 years never looked back. 12 years after Amy there was me - the "eccentric" baby sister. Awkward late bloomer, loud-mouthed, also headstrong, attention grabbing dramatic performer who spent a majority of her childhood with no other children in the house. I was six years old when Amy left home. For the most part our relationship has been long distance, and I see now why that might have been a blessing in disguise. Our lives have been so different, you'd swear we were born to different parents. Their life and philosophy were bound to change in the 12 years' difference between us. I might not recognize the people they were when Amy was born, and when she heard through phone calls and emails of the way I was being raised, she didn't recognize them either. In her exasperation she even told my mom that they got it right with her, it was me they were screwing up!
But I digress. "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood," and we each took a different path, admiring the other from afar. And what should happen now but the merging of those two roads . . . and here we are, dividing chores, raising our children in the same house, cooking meals together, laughing, bickering, trying not to to step on each others' toes when we're both so used to having our own space . . . I have to believe this experience is cultivating something good and important in us that might have laid dormant without the other sister . . . she the oldest learning how to let go of some control and responsibility, and me the youngest learning how to take some. Now that she's moving, it seems as though our roads have just crisscrossed for a time, giving us the rare opportunity to see each other close up and appreciate the day-to-day beauty and frustrations we don't usually witness, so accustomed are we to snap shots and status updates. Maybe our paths are destined to do this for the rest of our lives, meandering beside each other, to and fro, reconnecting and breaking apart. She might grow roots in Kansas now, but my own meandering has just begun. Whatever our destiny, whatever our paths, my life will always be richer for those crossings, that small but magnificent touch of sisterhood that distance and time cannot sever.

Love you, Sis.

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