Tuesday, November 27, 2012


She walks down my street with her eyes darting everywhere, absorbing every single detail at impressive speed, inhaling energy from the constant movement and the people. She turns to ask me a question, and I yank her back on the sidewalk as she starts to cross against a Do Not Walk. 

I am the little sister. I'm not the one who is supposed to be looking out for her. I'm not the one who should be living the city life, free and easy as I go. This is her paradise, her energetic eyes jumping here and there.

It wasn't supposed to be me.

She had her first baby at 18, and then two more followed.

But me, the little sister who wrote down the names of the ten children I wanted to have and pictured them all while daydreaming in my closet of the life I was going to have--I got to leave. I walked across the graduation stage, and straight to DC and my life exploded into something else.

I'm not hiding in my closet anymore, throwing a softball in the air, daydreaming, and getting quiet if anyone came in the room to listen for me.

My sister (step-sister, technically) brought up my older nieces and nephew up for Thanksgiving break. We did so much that I don't even know where to start--let's just say there was no museum or monument left unturned and untouched. We never, ever, ever stopped. The kids and I collapsed into our beds and air mattresses each night.

My sister has emotional issues, and veers and swings wildly from happy to sad to pissed to manically ecstatic. I've said it before and I'll say it again...how my nieces and nephew turned out to be such wonderful, balanced kids, I'll never know.

The kids had a blast. All 3 want to move here.

So does she.

She is awed of me, proud of me. She also looks at me with a bit of resentment under her gaze, a little bit of defensiveness. Pride.

It was never supposed to be me that didn't end up on the farm - yet...

She has no idea how long I've plowed this city ground to turn it into a fertile life. No idea of the struggles, no idea of the things unsaid and unmentioned. The tears and blood in your mouth and empty lonely feeling in your stomach when you realize that no one is going to ever rescue you but you. And I can't explain it -- there are some things that you can't tell someone who thinks you have a perfect life. They'll never believe you.

"After all, those were passionate times, when children were pioneers... on the road to find out, wherever that road might take them. When brothers and sisters, looking back... wished they'd known each other better." --The Wonder Years

Me and my niece Carlee; she is the one who will get away.


Ms. Moon said...

No one knows what anyone else's journey has been like. That is a good reason to try and be kind to everyone.
And none of us knows where our own journeys will take us. Which is a good reason to be kind to ourselves.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. I can see all the truth of what you've said here - and feel like I've done the same thing for myself by choosing a different life than what anyone expected of me. I'm glad that you "got away" as well. I think we both needed to.

Glad you got to see your fam for the holiday!

Mel said...

I'm glad you had such a good visit with the kids. You do live in a magical place, I want very much to get back to see the museums I missed and to re-see the ones I didn't.

And I hear you, the undercurrent of resentment for getting away, for having a life that might look like it came easy, from the sister with chronic mood swings. But you have worked hard and paid a price for what you have. I'm twenty years ahead of you and I still wonder if I did the right things, if I'm in the right place. But I know that no matter what, I was brave enough to strike out to the great unknown, and I give myself credit for that.

Keep plowing those streets, dear heart - you can grow all kinds of great things there.

And that song, I love that song so much. It is one of my favorites.


liv said...

Once again, a wonderful piece of writing.

You have accomplished so much on this solitary journey of yours. In good part it has made you the woman you are, and that is impressive, the woman you are.

Glance back but don't linger, because it looks to me like you made the right choices and are in the right place saving the right person.

I LOVE that smile of yours!

May said...

I wondered how the visit went. I'm glad you wrote about it, and it is a beautiful piece of writing. I can only imagine what it has taken to make this life of yours, and even though what I imagine can only be a fraction of all that, I am amazed, impressed, and awed. It's probably a good thing that we cannot know how hard something is until we do it. Maybe, rather than seeing something that she feels should be hers, she'll look at you and see that it can be done. But maybe not. You are a fine and special woman, SJ.

Angie Muresan said...

I echo what Ms. Moon said. So true.