Saturday, March 20, 2010

My Sister - I Think I'll Keep Her

My sister recently posted an entry about me on her blog.

Had you known the two of us fifteen years ago, you would never believe we could be friends, let alone post entries about each other on our blogs - nice ones, anyway.

Early memories of Mandy and me are mostly positive. If there was a storm outside I'd go to her room, knock on the door (if I didn't knock I'd get yelled at), wait for the reluctant "what" and crack the door. I would ask if I could sleep in her room, if that was okay. As a five year-old, (maybe I was four - not sure - we were living in Edenwood, which means I was no more than six) thunder and lightning gave me the jitters. I also remember at that age being afraid that an earthquake, tornado or atomic bomb (a babysitter once let me watch the Day After) would come and wipe us out at any time. My sister's room was a safe haven under a quilt and someone nearby who while couldn't really protect me from anything, made me feel better by their presence.

Reluctantly Mandy would let me sleep on the floor by her bed. Around age six I realized that sucked and stopped asking. Plus, she snored. And I was beginning to think that while I loved her - she was my sister after all - sometimes I couldn't stand her. This was the beginning of our troubled friendship.

There are so many stories, so many ups and downs of our relationship that I couldn't begin to tackle it all here. We had our struggles, and we had times of real friendship. Here are a few highlights.

As I got older Mandy became aware that I could fetch things: iced tea, cheese puffs, the television remote. And of course if I didn't she said would never speak to me again. I didn't really believe this to be true, but I also wanted to avoid a fight. I had very few friends at one stage, and I didn't care to be fighting with anyone at home. However, it was during that time that I overheard my sister standing up for me one day. It was all the reassurance I needed, for a while.

Of course, there was the time - never mind. I'm not going to mention the heat stroke and concrete stairs incident - (note to our Twitter friends - ask her about it). And there was the time I was ten and she was twisting my arm - it popped, and scared the bejesus out of her. She was on the verge of tears, unsure if she had broken my arm, bent it out of its socket, or what - but she was begging me not to tell Mom and frantically asking me if my arm was okay. It's amazing to me Mandy never noticed that I have a noisy body. It snaps, crackles and pops like a bowl of Rice Crispies whenever I do so much as walk. It always has. So when my arm popped, likely more to do with the fact that I was - you know, MOVING, than anything she did, and she panicked, I milked it for every ounce it was worth.

And then I started getting older, and maybe a little angrier. I realized I was pretty strong, and would hit back from time to time. But mostly she and I just avoided each other. She was the A-student, the athlete, the popular one, the normal one. I was the freak with green hair and piercings. She was the sweet one, the outgoing one. I was shy and never sure if I hated people, or was afraid of them. Secretly I was jealous of Mandy, and annoyed by her at the same time. Why was she so normal?

Our fights were fewer and farther between, but worse when they happened. It culminated in my throwing a brick in her direction (she claims I was aiming at her, but it has never been my intention to hurt anyone that badly, not even my sister). But, I think it kind of scared her, because there was a marked distance between us for a while.

But there were other times as well. As Mandy put, whenever we were really in trouble, or one of us needed the other, we were there. We knew we loved each other, and not just out of moral obligation. We shared secrets others don't know to this day. We're often the first person the other calls when a major event happens in our lives. (Although sometimes it's just because Mom's phone is busy or we can't reach her). That said, Mandy recently trusted me with something she had told no one else. It was that trust that made me realize how far we had come in our relationship.

Around the time I returned from England ten years ago, I realized Mandy and I had grown more alike than apart. We still have our differences, but are alike enough to know how to at least try and see things from the others' perspective. Over the past few years I've been able to say without a shred of doubt in my mind, that woman is my best friend.

See the thing about friends that makes them different from siblings is that you choose them. You forge the bond yourselves, of your own volition, and actively choose to be that friend. Siblings are stuck siblings. They are born that way.

Mandy and I were born siblings. But we chose to be friends. The fact that we were once so distant proves it. We each made an effort, because we share similarities that balance out the differences. We would never have seen those had we not proactively become friends.

Among other things, Mandy is strong-willed, intelligent, insightful, intuitive, and ever-evolving. She's creative and open-minded, at once a Southern girl who likes Country Music and NASCAR, and a party girl who manages to say things on Twitter that make me close my eyes, stick fingers in my ears and shout "lalalalala." (And I am no prude).

Mandy and I have so much to learn from each other, that maybe that's the strongest bond between us - we're evolving, and our shared history - as different as it may have been - does nothing but strengthen that bond.

After all we've both been through over the past 18 months, neither would have made it through it without the other.

Thank you sis. You've made it bearable. We'll always come through it unscathed, because we've always had each others' back. I think we always did.


Mandy said...

Ya know? It really pisses me off to cry, always has and lately I've done more than my share. So, seriously, thanks for that.

Seriously, thank you for a beautifully written tribute. We could surely write a book on all we have been through. It is these things that have done nothing but strengthen our bond.

I love you baby brother, am so very proud of you and so very grateful to know you are always in my corner.

Darkwulfe said...

SO Will...Question....Has she always been so full of herself and confident she is always right? Or is that a new development? *grins* You two have a great relationship and it is a pleasure to see. Me and my brother have always been close, though in the last year or two we have grown apart some, mostly due to difference in interests, ideologies and such, but we both know we are there for each other when we need it. We got each other's back...and in the end that is what matters the most. Great post!

Anonymous said...

This was so sweet!

And seriously, I must just be following too many people on Twitter b/c I miss all the juicy conversations...