Monday, January 11, 2010

Little sister

My little sister is getting married. True to her, it is happening in cyclone-like fashion. Move in after 2 months, engaged at a year, marrying 6 months after that. If it was anyone but her, I may be out of breath, especially in comparison to what may seem like my slow-and-steady tortoise like pace through similar choices. But, over the past year or so, I've had to come to accept that this is just who she is, how she operates, even if it seems foreign to me.

The main thing is that she is happy-- which she is.

I sometimes think that the differences between my sister and I were somehow created by everyone else's need to dichotomize us, rather than any inherent variability. The more automatic aspects of us are eerily alike- the way we speak, our sense of humour, our mannerisms, our smile, our clumsiness. But at a young age, my tendencies to voraciously read and hers to dress up in pouffy dresses for the most minimal of occasions were somehow magnified. I became the smart one. She became the pretty one.

Somehow everyone became invested in maintaining those categories. Despite the fact that we regularly become mistaken for twins, I was always more insecure, more critical when I looked in the mirror. Despite her almost constant appearance on the honour roll, she never considered going to university. I make practical decisions, she makes spontaneous ones. She spends money, I save. Despite being three years younger than me, she had boyfriends with cars before I did.

It sometimes feels like she got to make the mistakes I was always too scared to make.

We're living pretty different lives these days. After five years in a big city, including a few changes in direction, and a big heartbreak, she decided that a small town is where she wants to be. And so, she's back in our hometown, getting married, living in a big beautiful home, and likely to start a family very soon. I don't know where I'm going to be living by the end this year, let alone the year after that, although I will be in the city. My life may seem a lot more jet-setting, in some ways, with me about to embark on another cross-country zigzagging trip, with a end of the month conference in Las Vegas, but it is also a lot more modest, given that I have yet to move out of one-bedroom apartment territory. I'm with my big love, too, but despite being together for much longer that her and her fiancee, a wedding is still far in the future, with other practicalities getting in the way.

Despite the fork somewhere in our paths, though, there's still a thick rope stretching across that distance that neither of us want to, or could, shake. When she's hurting, her first instinct is still to hop a plane and fly my way. And for me, she'll always have the spirit of that 12 year old who called my 16-year old boyfriend to scold him for treating me badly.

She sometimes hurts me more than she realizes, not because of malice, but rather than she occasionally forgets that she needs to slip her feet into my shoes for an instant, as they do fit a lot differently. She did so recently, and it still feels more raw than I would like to admit. But I still couldn't help but tear up as she twirled around, beaming, clutching a bouquet in what will be her wedding dress outside the dressing room. Hurt goes away, after all-- but she won't.

14 comments:

longredcape said...

What a great post. I wish I had a sister...

Ant said...

We-ell, give it a bit longer, see how both of you cope with those choices and decisions, then see if the dichotomies still stand.

Airing my own dirty laundry a little here, but I'm frankly astonished at the change having a child has made to my sister. It seems to have vested a feeling of power or self-righteousness or something in her, which has unleashed a monster of rage and hatred that none of us guessed was there, and must have been bubbling away for 30+ years. Has all but destroyed her relationships with me and with our parents.

My sister's is an extraordinary situation though. With yours I guess I'm just saying - props for tortoise-like progress, being steady and balanced, and avoiding cyclones. Though apparently exciting, they cause nothing but trouble.

Erica said...

What a really sweet post. Sisters are exhausting, but it's awesome that you are enjoying this with her.

P.T said...

I found out yesterday, from my brother, that my sister is getting married this year. Then this morning my mother confirmed it. She and her fiance haven't set a date yet but it'll be this year. She's 4 years younger than me. I'm still 'digesting' the news...

Congratulations to your sis!!

P said...

Reading this, I can't help but feel my relationship with my little sister, and the differences between us, are very similar to you and your sister's.

Katelin said...

this is eerily similar to the relationship between my sister and i. although i don't know that she'll have a cyclone marriage, i think she's a little too afraid of that, but she definitely did a whole lot of things i never did or even before i did and sometimes i regret it, other times i don't mind being the good sister, haha.

Bayjb said...

Aww what a great post. I don't have a sister but I can only imagine what that relationship is like.

gemmy from the block said...

walking in the shoes of a sibling is a tough, tough thing to do.

NamesAreHardToPick said...

Yes, but the faster the marriage the quicker the divorce, right? You may think that you're more insecure and critical, but possibly that's because you think and she doesn't. Acting with thought beats impulsive acting.

So, you're the sensible sister (and she understands that since she turns to you when things are down).

Surfergrrl said...

wow great post. words to ponder. It's hard for me to fully understand where you're coming from as I don't have a sister, and the one sibling I do have is planets away as far as our personality similarities, so it's almost like I don't have a sibling. I'm sure as it leads up to the wedding, you will have a lot of thoughts like this. I'm sure it's just natural to compare.

Mandy said...

I think it would be hard to have a sister. I am glad that you're happy that she is happy though, that is the most important thing.

Elle said...

Wow, I teared up reading this. Your relationship with your sister reminds me of the one I share with mine. We share our own sets of differences and ideals, live different lives, but in the end, no matter what the circumstances or what we've had to overcome, she will never go away, nor will I. That is the beauty of sisterhood. And you two are incredibly lucky to have each other <3.

Rebekah J said...

She called your boyfriend when she was 12? Love it.

Sisters are tough - my little sis just got married this summer and I was surprised at how torn I felt too, despite the fact that I knew how much those two kids loved each other. But overall it really was a special time for us to grow together more, and I think planning her wedding brought us a lot closer.

qu33nbee said...

This almost made me tear up. I've always wanted a sister. I guess my brothers will have to do..