Monday, July 9, 2012

Sisters, Sisters

Culture tells us that if you have a  sister, she will be your best friend.  She'll be the person you confide in, tell all of your secrets to, and be the maid of honor at your wedding.  You'll have tons of things in common, and only disagree a few times.  This is the picture of what culture tells me my relationship with my sister should look like.  However, mine is quite different.

Growing up, I think it is safe to say my sister and I were polar opposites.  She preferred to read, write, and learn while I wanted to play outside and play sports all day.  One summer, my parents made me read for 30 minutes a day while she had to "get 30 minutes of sun" each day.  We both complained about our 30 minutes of being forced into what we didn't want to do and thought it was terrible.

I remember one summer when my family went to the Wisconsin Dells for a few days.  My brother and I were extremely excited for this mini vacation.  I loved to go down water slides and could not wait to go to Noah's Arc.  I remember getting to the park and begging my parents to let us rent a raft so we could go on all of the rides.  They agreed, and while I stood in line to wait to go down slides, my sister brought her book in with her and floated in the Lazy River for the entire day.

Another memory I have of my sister that depicts our differences growing up is when she played basketball.  My sister, who hated all things related to sport, played on a team called the Jaguars.  They were a team that played in basketball tournaments in our hometown and surrounding area.  I think my sister was in sixth or seventh grade at the time, which means I would have been in third or fourth.  I didn't start to play travel basketball until 5th grade, and can remember thinking how lucky she was to play in tournaments.  I don't think she felt that lucky.  She was only on the team for one year.

In junior high, my sister liked Converse shoes.  I can remember thinking that they were weird.  I did not understand why someone would buy a pair of Converse shoes when you could not play basketball in them.  My sister also wore flannel shirts, while I only wore sweatshirts that had the logo of my favorite sports team on the front.  When I was running the Illinois Marathon in April, there was a man wearing a flannel shirt that was running near me for a few miles later in the race, around 20 I think.  I can remember thinking why would someone wear a flannel shirt for a marathon?!?  It was baffling, but it made me think of my sister and her love for flannel 15 years ago.  That thought led to a few more about her...

Growing up, I always wished that my family was 4 people - my dad, mom, brother and myself.  I wish she wasn't part of it.  She didn't want to do what my brother and I wanted to do, and she didn't like sports (how dare her!).  I recently read an article she wrote about growing up that was published in her magazine.  In it, she stated that she felt like she didn't fit in with the culture in which we were raised.  After I read that, I finally got it.  Her small group of "weird" (to me back then) friends probably felt the same way.  I can't say I know anyone quite like my sister now, but I do know a lot more people.  I was raised in a cultural bubble and had my eyes opened when I moved away from the town in which I was raised.  Just because you don't like sports, aren't Catholic, white, and live in a four bedroom house does not mean you are any less of a person.  In the town where I grew up, and at the high school I attended, everyone is pretty much the same.  There is no diversity - everyone, more or less, looks the same, acts the same, and believes the same things.  Growing up, I fit in because I had the same interests and beliefs at 99% of our town.

In the past year, I have come to appreciate and admire my sister more and more.  In March, I got to go to LA to visit her.  I was excited to go to California.  Warm weather and sunny skies...who wouldn't want to go?  When I got back on the plane to fly home, I realized I enjoyed not only LA, but more so my sister's company.  I got to meet her co-workers and friends, all of whom had personalities similar to hers.  I got to eat at one of her favorite restaurants.  I got to see her house - which I loved.  She took us to the House of Spirits because they have a great sunglasses selection and I left my pair in Illinois.  She delayed her lunch because I was not ready in time from running 20 miles in preparation for my marathon.  All of these things made me realize how much kindness my sister has, something I never took the time to realize before.

This spring, I was in a video for a half marathon I competed in and had an article written about me after the Illinois Marathon.  I sent an email of the video and another of the article to my immediate family.  I thought my parents would reply (which my dad did to the article), but was incredibly shocked when my sister replied to both.  Her witty comments brought a smile to my face.

Now when I think about my sister, I think about how lucky I am to be related to her.  We are still incredibly different, but I appreciate our differences more now.  She is going to be embarking on her next adventure in life soon,  which will most likely involve another move across the country.  If this were me, I would be incredibly nervous.  She takes it all in stride, awaiting her new life in another metropolitan area.  I know she'll be successful, too.  I just hope she can make it home for Christmas this year to quote my favorite movie, White Christmas, word-for-word.  Is there anyone other than her that can sing the "Sister, Sister" song better?


  1. This was such an awesome post to read! Even more so now that I got to meet you IRL.
    I just love how explained it all. So sweet.
    For the record, I have a sister and we are also polar opposites. We love and support each other like best friends would even though we don't have similar interests.

  2. There are a million reasons why I love this post, and my relationship with my own sister is a BIG one. Thanks for writing this!