I watched In Her Shoes last night; the movie based on the book by Jennifer Weiner and really enjoyed it. It's basically the story of two sisters who are polar opposites but still so close they lose and find who they are without their functionally dysfunctional relationship to rely on.
And it got me to thinking about my own sister. I hadn't wanted one originally. When Mom was on her way to the hospital to have the baby I, in all of my five year old wisdom, suggested if it wasn't a boy, she should leave it there at the hospital. We didn't need a girl. I already had a brother and that seemed to be working out fine. No sense rocking the boat. Just give me another one of those. Fate had other plans.
For the longest time I didn't know what to do with her. She was a foreign entity. She liked frills and dolls and dress up. I liked dirt and baseball and books. She came out of the womb a diva, a whirlwind of emotion. I entered the world much more quietly and kept my feelings mostly to myself. She kept trying to get my attention. I became even more determined not to give it to her. Which would have been a little easier to accomplish if she didn't continually get herself into situations that required Big Sister to get her out of. Bit by bit she grew on me. Like a fungus, I tell her. With affection.
Sometimes we drive each other crazy. Sometimes we want to drive each other into traffic. But if we did, we'd only have to turn around and jump in, saving each other from the carnage. That's the thing. Sort of a damned if you do, damned if you don't type deal. We operate on different playing fields. She's far more spontaneous, I'm far more diplomatic. She was always the star; I was always the one with my nose in a book. She shone, I blended. She rebelled against the system; I worked the system to my own advantage. She was a big softie; I was the hard ass. She's far less likely to bend, but she'd call me the stubborn one. I'd still be right, she'd consider me delusional.
We're still as different as night and day, yet she's probably closer to me than anyone else. We never fight, never really did. Even our arguments are barely more than heated discussions. She knows me on a level most people miss, or simply haven't had the time or the inclination to delve into. And even if they had, there's a password and series of locks and booby traps, smoke and mirrors. She knows how to navigate around mine, as I do hers. I see her in a way others don't. I see all the machinations working behind her brain and then the ones going on behind that, and the ones waiting in the wings to start.
We share the same sense of humor, the same set of morals, and the same strength of character. We like the same traits in others. We have our own language--words and gestures that don't translate to anyone else. We laugh at the same things and she's the first person I want to call when something happens--good or bad. Or if we've been drinking. We've lost track of how many incoherent phone calls we've swapped at 2 AM on a Saturday night. She's protective of me, like a mother lion ready to swat her claws through anyone who looks like they might hurt me, and I've learned to step back and let her stand on her own without getting in her way so she can experience the ups and downs and learn what she needs to. We're each others lifeline, conscience and cheerleader. We're the voice of reason in a world of insanity. The voice in each others' head.
It's a strange bond sisters have. This unbreakable, impenetrable thread that ties you together. She's a mother now, and come September a wife. But she was my sister first. And she'll be my sister last. We've changed over the years, but that never will.