Being My Sister’s Sister

I am the youngest of three and while my brother moved out when I was almost nine, my sister and I are only a year apart–she got seventeen years of uninterrupted Kaitlin action, lucky b*tch.

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me (3), my brother (13), my sister (4)–our driveway in Los Angeles

From the start, Becky and I were complete opposites.  My sister is a total extrovert: she’s always been a social butterfly, eager to meet new people, and had more friends than I have ever been able to keep track of.  I didn’t speak in public until I was 6, “afflicted” with a form of childhood anxiety disorder called Selective Mutism. Making friends has always been difficult and I was terrified of being bullied or looking foolish so I tried to be invisible for most of my life…occassionally, I still do.  Watching her thrive socially was a form of silent torture for me–I simply could not understand why I was not gifted with the same talent as her or why she didn’t want me to hang out with her friends.  I guess no one wants their younger sibling hanging around.

In our backyard in Arizona

me (5), my sister (6)–our backyard in Arizona

My parents focused on my sister’s sports and forced me to tag along because I was too young to be left alone.  I was given craft supplies and would draw, write, or make friendship bracelets for my negative number of friends during her practices and matches.  I was praised for high grades and sent to piano camp.  My parents loved me as much, but I was their sweet, quiet, smart, creative daughter.  They didn’t think to focus on me because I never demanded their attention…I aimed to please, even if it meant I had to sit on the sideline and watch.

Our lives took final, radically opposite turns when we moved again (the fourth move in my 14 years, a fifth move for her) to a city in the deep South.  I was unable to make friends at the public high school and moved to an academically rigorous private one.  Becky embraced the culture surrounding us and now has an extreme Southern drawl; I focused on academics and the arts and have no accent (I do say “oy vey” every other sentence, however).  She is a special education teacher and lives in Mississippi with her army-recruiter/Iraq War veteran husband (they met when she was 19) and their two kids; I have lived in New York for eleven years.

Becky and me holding my niece

Becky and me holding my niece

My sissy has been shorter than me since we were 10 and 11; her appearance favors my father’s side and I look…well, adopted (I’m not).  We see one another only a few times a year yet maintain our ESP tendencies and even call at the same time (I have picked up the phone with a sudden urge to speak to my sister and found her already on the line).  She still feels maternal towards me…I was her favorite toy when I came home from the hospital and she was still in diapers, herself.  Always my biggest critic, my loudest cheerleader, and my strongest defender (only she was allowed to pick on me…sisterly affection, of course).  She has been my best friend for thirty years.  There is too much to say…maybe I will share a story another time.

Becky, I love you.

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