Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Sister Act

Ed. Confidential Note: I started this post this morning and got sidetracked. I know you are going to think I wrote this after our conversation tonight. Only the last 2.5 paragraphs. Come Clean.

For someone who doesn't have kids, I have some strong opinions about child rearing and family. I may not ever have children of my own, so I probably won't ever understand how fully arrogant and misguided said opinions are, but alas, I am just plain opinionated, it would seem. I also have strong opinions about birth order and all that, but again, for another time.

Among those strong opinions is birth order and siblings. I am one of four kids in our family. Four seems like an awful lot of kids these days, especially given the cost of living here. My older sister (yet another K - we all start with K) and I were in the first litter with the first husband who made a somewhat graceful stage left exit. Older sister KK is 18 months older than me which, incidentally, I believe to be an ideal spacing between siblings. We were far apart in age enough to have separate lives, but close enough to have shared experiences.

KK is, in many ways, a typical first born child, as far as I can tell from the information on the internets. For 18 glorious months, she got all of the attention, and if you knew my older sister, you would understand how glorious that was for her. When I was born, KK wrote her name on all of her toys, and those markings endured. KK didn't just command attention, she demanded it. When her baby sister was born, she had the predictable reaction. She had once been the only child and was now the used model. From stories I have been told, this played itself out in a variety of interesting tales.

KK and I occupied different social roles growing up. Second kids typically have an easier time socially, most likely because they have someone to model. In our case, I truly believe that KK inherited a lot from my mother, personality-wise and I inherited much from my bio dad. My mother wasn't particularly comfortable in the junior-high, high school dynamic and neither was KK, even though both had and have a timeless beauty. I was socially comfortable, probably because I had an older sister and I had the bio dad genes that made me resistant to the self-doubting. It should be noted that bio dad was, himself, a second born.

In any event, this post is about my sister, who is the ultimate touchstone in my life. Her birthday is today and we are somewhat disconnected, which always creates an emptiness in me. I said in the maudlin Father's Day entry that my dad informed every aspect of who I am. I need to supplement that statement. My sister is my other half. At times, it feels like we are twins -- sometimes Siamese -- because she is my sole shared history. I cannot rewrite my past because she was there, right beside me, to remind me of how things really were. And she is so much more perceptive than me - she remembers things that I forgot long before high school.

I am a shitty sister to KK, and an even shittier aunt to her daughter (wait for it -- KK, Jr). If I were in a finger pointing mood, I would blame it on my marriage to B, but that isn't it. KK is very much about family and called me on every shitty thing I have done in and out of the name of family. For as much as I wanted to escape my family and forge a new one, KK kept me tethered to our shared history as best she could. She was fighting an uphill battle. It was entirely my fault. It still is. Every relationship - family, friend, husband, lover -- it all takes work, maintenance and effort. I have failed her in that. I have failed her and her daughter by only being available for random sound bites and occasional phone calls.

One of the many things I intend to do better in this next lifetime is treasure my sister and all of that shared history. Absolutely no one could know me better than my sister, even though we are so far apart now. There are so many funny stories I can tell. Mike Huggins? Best kisser ever? So many, but I will only tell one:

Singapore. Shit - 1989? 1990? Hard Rock Cafe. That guy who hated me initially. KK didn't want to be there, but alas, I was a sucker for a table full of military guys and Long Island Iced Teas. Having that guy profess his love for me at the end of the night. The taxi ride home and the barf bag that you handed to the cab driver. The elevator ride into the Twilight Zone. The cab ride the next morning with the chiming. The extra night in Singapore and the cash, courtesy of the airline. That will always be one of my favorite memories of us. The way that whole trip started was hysterical.

My sister will never know how much she influenced me or how much she shaped me into being who I am. KK is the only person in my life who can keep me grounded and real. Nothing in my life is real unless KK knows about it, even if she hates it or disagrees with it, or "has a bad feeling about it." I trust KK's opinion more than anyone else in my life. She is such a part of me and, quite frankly, a part I can't ever dismiss. She is, in many ways, the best part of me.

I don't dismiss only children by the following statement. Having a sister or brother? Having three of them? Yeah. Kind of golden. Having a sibling who is just months older than you and has similar yet different frames of reference? Yeah, really golden. Having a sister who, no matter what, feels like an appendage? Yeah, you are never alone. You always have your sister.

I treasure my sister more than she will ever know. Happy Birthday, KK. You are more a part of me than you will ever know. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is real until you get on board. I love you so much and am so sorry I suck as a sister.

1 comment:

Melora said...

You write very well.