The ties that bind and all that jazz.

“Sometimes it’s heartbreaking to see your siblings as the people they’ve become. Maybe that’s why we all stay away from each other as a matter of course.” -Jonathan Tropper

Mainly because growing up you’re a unit, and then suddenly, you’re scattered out into the world like a bunch of seeds and there’s no way you will remain totally functioning as that part you played when you were one of the many. No way.

My sisters are the best friends I’ve ever had. Growing up in a male-dominated family, it was important to me to have female allies. My favorite ladies. I’ve never met two people who I am so like and yet so different. This weird mesh of characteristics and preferences that mostly aligns yet bears significant lines of differentiation.

My older sister, who is loud and not afraid to be obnoxious. “Captain” or as she fondly calls herself, “the bitch.” She is bold beyond my comfort zone. I hide my cracks, hers are on display. She helped me figure out fashion and eyeliner at an age when I should have already had it figured out. She chugs her beer with me and compliments my t-shirts and makes fun of my introversion. She has this long thick dark straight hair I’ve always envied. And legs that go on for days. My legs ended last week. We speed mumble together and have mastered the shrug and the eyebrow raise. We share a name.

She’s the wittiest woman I know. She can make a joke out of the worst insult, the most unfortunate conclusion, the simplest errand. I model her cackle of glee and her hand clap. She’s given me other versions of what it’s like to be a mom, to be a wife, to be on your own. She’s shown me what it’s like to make mistakes and backtrack. She’s a more patient cook than I am. She’s more sensitive at times than I am. We read and write and laugh together. She gave me the confidence to pursue graduate school. I don’t think I can thank her enough for letting me raid her closet, watch her kids, use her computer, drive her car, talk to her about boys I should have long forgotten.

Then there’s JB, the baby. The sweetheart. The soft spoken, doe eyed angel. I was so excited to have a younger sister. My younger brother was not a thought, not a preparation. He came into the world, and surprised as I was, we joined in together, became a team, one in the same. JB though, she gave me the chance to be the girl I never was. Fem. I dressed her up and took her out and never let her doubt for a second that she was beautiful and smart. She curls her hair and rims her eyelids in makeup and spends hours trying on outfits and shoes and perfumes. I roll my eyes at the monster I’ve created. But she’s special. It’s strange to watch someone grow up, to watch them develop into an actual human with goals and a conscience and stories to tell. To watch her become an autonomous human being, who brings a self to the table, rather than just reacting to me, to the world. Where I am impatient and dry and mean, she is welcoming and warm and kind. Babies and old people alike adore her. A soft cold touch on a hot forehead.

My sisters only connection is me. They don’t share anything else in the world, but me. They have long thick dark hair and tiny oval faces, but those are just coincidences. Someday I think we will share the same space, and it will be interesting to see the group dynamic. If sister is something contagious we can pass around.


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