Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Photo

I grew up as the oldest of three girls.

The middle child, the sister closest in age to me, is the one with whom I share a very special bond. Even now that we are almost a thousand miles apart, she's my best friend and confidant. I love her children as my own, and I miss them desperately every day. Many of my fondest childhood memories are of her, and the adventures we had together.

My youngest sister and I have never been close. She is six years younger than me and for most of my chidlhood, she existed on the fringes of my life as a crying baby, a whining toddler, an annoying kindergartener.

In many ways, she was entirely superfluous to my existence. We never played with the same kids, we never attended the same school, we never had the same interests. Other than a few very notable exceptions, she is largely absent from my collective childhood memories.

That wasn't a purposeful thing. Nobody did anything to alienate us from one another. It's just the way things were because of our age difference and because we were and are polar opposites in every possible respect.

But I think it's sad all the same.

I left home when she was just 12 years old. I visited once or twice a year, but she had her friends, her interests, her own life. I wasn't particularly interested in hearing about or associating with her friends, whom I considered "trashy". She wasn't really interested in hearing about my job, my social life, my "hoity toity" existence in the big city.

As a young adult, she made what I considered to be some very bad choices. I disapproved. She felt judged. I tried to help. She resentment my meddling. I felt rejected. And our relationship eroded even further.

We became strangers.

Our history is so checkered with resentment and anger that it's difficult to relate to one another too deeply without the risk of resurrecting old hurts.

None of this means that I don't love her. On the contrary...I love her very much. And it's because I love her that I worry, I meddle, I judge. It's what big sisters do, even big sisters who are estranged from their little sisters by time and circumstance.

She is smart, my little sister, but she doesn't give herself enough credit. I hate that. She has such incredible potential. She could be so much. She could have so much. And of course, I want it all for her...even if she doesn't want it for herself.

All of this has made our relationship very superficial, brittle, tentative and timid. I try not to say too much, and end up perhaps saying too little. She tries to relate to things she can't possibly understand and ends up sounding insincere.

So, we smile and we make polite chit chat. Very rarely is anything of any consequence said. We dance around the deeper issues that lie at the core of our relationship. And I don't know how to make us closer. We have so much to overcome. We have both, at times, felt that the other just didn't care.

This past Christmas, we exchanged gifts as we always do. It's hard for me to buy for I said, we are strangers and I tend to give her the kind of impersonal all-purpose things that one gives to the myriad of people who cross one's path but whom one scarcely knows. Her gifts to me are often similarly generic.

I unwrapped her gift absently, without relish, without anticipation. I chatted with my family as my hands tore at the paper. But then a glimmer of gold and glass caught my eye, and a swatch of polka-dotted cotton peeped through the paper. Curious now, I tore the rest of the paper impatiently away and found a piece of my childhood staring back at me.

Three little girls, lined up like pickets in a fence, wearing matching red polka-dot jumpers. A brunette, a blonde, and a baby with fine red fuzz sticking up all over her head.

Suddenly I was 30 years in the past. It was picture day.

I remembered complaining over the way my bangs hung in my eyes, and I remembered how the elastic in the puffed sleeves made my arms itch. I remembered that the sandals I wore were a discordant yellow. My Mother said it didn't matter because they wouldn't be seen. But it bugged me all the same.

I remembered the bright glare of fluorescent lighting in the store, the slap of my feet on the cheap tile floor. I remembered racks of lollipops strung together in plastic, hanging in strips to the floor. I remembered the merry crinkle as my sister spun the rack and how it teetered back and forth with its own momentum.

I remembered the baby fussing. She had teeth trying to break through her tender gums. I remember the cool plumpness of her bare arms and legs as I tried to soothe her. I remember my mother fretting over the drool on her jumper.

I have seen that photo a hundred times over the course of my life. With the years, it has faded and yellowed, until we all looked happily jaundiced, and the cheery tomato red of our jumpers turned a curious chromatome orange.

But here it was, in a pretty gold frame; the richness of our skin, the lustre of our hair and the brilliant reds and golds of the autumn background all restored to their proper hues.

And it struck me with the intensity of a physical blow...that this photo means something to her.

This photo of us.

Sisters. And Sisterhood.

And I knew then that we would be okay. Maybe not perfect. Maybe not good enough. But we can and we will, keep on trying. Becase it matters. To both of us.

Thanks Little Sister.


  • At 11:31 PM, Blogger Moments Of Mom said…

    Awwww, now I am crying.
    That was so sweet.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • At 12:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Beautifully written.

  • At 12:52 AM, Blogger Creative-Type Dad said…

    Very nice story.

    My wife is the youngest of 3 sisters, her older sis' is 7 years older. My wife looks to her as a mother figure since their mother passed 4 years ago. She's been big in our lives throughout the birth of our daughter, family, etc.

    And to think... 8 years ago - they were complete strangers

  • At 12:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What a gorgeous piece of writing. Just reading it makes me look at my relationship, or lack thereof, with my older sister in a much different way.

  • At 5:17 AM, Blogger JChevais said…

    Wonderful piece.
    Thank you for showing us the relationship as well as the story.

  • At 7:09 AM, Blogger Unknown said…

    Beautiful story. I have a similar relationship with my twin brothers who are ten years younger than me. The angst I feel over it is nearly comforting to me because as you've pointed out, it means I do love them.

  • At 7:32 AM, Blogger OhTheJoys said…

    Wonderful, wonderful post BA!

  • At 7:54 AM, Blogger Code Yellow Mom said…

    So well written, and what a darling picture.

    So much of this rings true in my life - although there actually was a bit of distance wedged in between my younger siblings and I by my mom's resentment - I've built up relationships again with my sisters and one brother who are out of the house now, but I still have two bros at home who more or less consider me a family friend rather than a sister...

    But it is exceptionally tender when something like this photo resurfaces and reminds us that we do connect somehow and even when the relationship seems stilted or distant, it is still there and still runs deep.

    I love this post.

  • At 12:07 PM, Blogger CPA Mom said…

    what a beautiful post and so searingly honest. my sister and I have ZERO relationship. My choice after being hurt too many times by her. Wish things were different. Wish she was more like you. Wish I was more like you.

  • At 12:38 PM, Blogger Student of Life said…

    Wow. This is a very powerful post. I can relate to the feelings you have expressed. I am eight years older than my sister and nearly ten years older than my brother. As children, that age difference seemed like an eternity. We're having to work very hard as adults to bridge the gap. It is not an easy thing to do. Good luck to you and your sister.

  • At 1:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh this is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing. I loved the photo. I have goose bumps after reading this.

    Great JOB!!!!!

  • At 1:32 PM, Blogger Sarah said…

    This post was incredibly moving, BA.

    And so insightful.

  • At 2:31 PM, Blogger Foofa said…

    what a great story. Sometimes the simplest gifts can mean the most.

  • At 4:34 PM, Blogger Unknown said…

    Beautiful post, I can assure you things will only get better from now on.

  • At 5:33 PM, Blogger Mom101 said…

    This may be one of my favorite things you've ever written (and that's saying a lot). What an amazing turn in the end. Just lovely.

  • At 8:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Really powerful. I am the youngest by far, half-sister to my siblings. Although I never thought of them as "halfs", growing up, I think they did think of me that way much more so. I'm a bit in touch w/next older than me, my brother who lives in Korea, but nearly not at all with next brother who lives in Texas, and not at all with sister, oldest, who lives in ...somewhere in California I think. I don't have an address or phone for her, and have only very recently found out her current email address.

    My DD and youngest DS are 5 1/2 years apart, but I've always told them, and encouraged them to believe, that they are each other's best friends, now and forever. In spite of the age difference, they love each other dearly, and I think when they're both adults it will allow them to relate more closely.

    Thanks for sharing your story and your love for your sisters.

  • At 9:28 PM, Blogger Girlplustwo said…

    that is so beautiful. i have always, always longed for a sister...for better or for worse, you have two.

    lucky you.

  • At 1:46 AM, Blogger Seattle Mamacita said…

    amazing post how lucky to have read this one my first time visiting your post...

  • At 6:45 AM, Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said…

    Such a beautiful post (but I have no photo! Just and angry little squared-out "X"!). It sounds like your little sister really was paying attention to her big sister.

  • At 9:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have twin sisters that are fifteen years old than me and with who I have virtually no relationship. It's not the age factor either because I have friends their age. It makes me sad but I've given up trying to join their exclusive club of two. I've found my own sisters here and there, but it would have been nice to have a sister that likes me and whom I like.

  • At 12:03 PM, Blogger Ms. Skywalker said…

    I, too, have a house full of pictures of myself and my three sisters.

    This post made me cry.

    So beautiful and so true.

  • At 12:05 PM, Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said…

    So beautiful. And so simple and pure. Thank you for this.

  • At 12:30 PM, Blogger Melanie said…

    Now you've gone and made me cry. What a beautiful post.

  • At 5:42 PM, Blogger tinamtl said…

    I have tears in my eyes. My sister and I no longer speak. That was just so beautiful - words cannot describe it.

    My daughters are 6 years apart and this

    "My youngest sister and I have never been close. She is six years younger than me and for most of my chidlhood, she existed on the fringes of my life as a crying baby, a whining toddler, an annoying kindergartener."

    is not familiar. My kids play together. They take interest in eachothers lives...but maybe having had a sister already close in age made that difference for you.


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