Siblings: Can’t live with them, but CAN you live without them?
My sister blew me off again. Her normal M.O.
When I was younger, I told her I was going to cut all of her hair while she slept. I didn’t really want to do it, but you can’t make a threat like that and not follow through. She was bigger than I was and YOUNGER. She had the baby card to play. I reached a compromise with myself. I decided putting blonde doll hair on her face for when she woke up would be acceptable. Like the mob. Just a finger in the mail, not the heart.
Not that she was guiltless. She wasn’t. I was about 12 or 13, making her 9 or 10. We were climbing around our friend’s garage, doing stuff we shouldn’t have been, as unsupervised children at those age will do. We scaled the walls, climbing hanging ladders, bookshelves nailed into the walls, a real man’s man garage. My sister, in an attempt to keep up with us, followed our every footstep. She didn’t process where we paused quite so carefully, which was definitely not on the glass top of an antique jukebox. My sister paused there, whining about something, placing all of her weight on the glass top, when it shattered. She fell straight through and immediately started wailing, screaming. She surprisingly skillfully excised herself from the now glass death machine and ran inside to where our parents were knocking back bud lights. The next thing I knew I heard my mom screaming my name into the back yard. I felt my stomach drop. She was pulling out the syllables. Never a good sign.
My sister told all of the adults I pushed her into the jukebox. She was there being comforted, while women applied bacitracin and Band-Aids to the cuts on her legs. She was surprisingly unscathed. Everyone glared at me when I walked in.
Thankfully, I had witnesses to corroborate my story. I had not pushed her. It was an accident. I had been on the other side of the garage, doing wrong, but not purposefully injuring my younger sister.
Now, this time I had witnesses, my other friends, but there were times I didn’t. Times when my sister tripped and got a bruise and told my parents, I did it and I was then sent to my room. So, I was meaner, but I also felt like I had to be to make up for all the unnecessary punishment.
For as much as we were enemies, we were also partners in crime, as I believe most siblings are. I remember one day while on the beach my mom fell asleep. My sister and I, with our packed lunch of sandwiches skillfully lead countless seagulls to my unsuspecting mother, where we decorated the blanket and sand around her with bread. My mom woke up surrounded by birds and being dive-bombed by them. She did yell at us, but only from her frozen position on the beach blanket, terrified to move. The two of us feigned remorse, but cackled on the inside in a telepathic way siblings share.
We were wild kids. We also had a phase where we kidnapped Barbies. We wrapped them in black electrical tape, used lipstick for blood, and hung them from the drop ceiling. We didn’t even have cable. We probably should not have been allowed to watch R rated movies.
In her late teens, my sister started drinking—she will never be a person who can have beer or wine with dinner. For this I am sorry for her. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to connect at that age without the lubricant and shared interest of alcohol. I got calls from my friends when they saw her out. I went to bars to pick her up. I found her on days when she was missing and hadn’t checked in with anyone. I went to her parent teacher meetings. I love my sister. I want to be her friend. I can’t help but wonder at what point I throw in the towel, because my sister does not see me as a friend.
A few years ago, I drove across the country with all of my belongings and a cat. I had been prepping her for weeks. I explained and confirmed my arrival date. I told her to ask her roommates. The day arrived and after driving for 5 days, and the last 10-hour leg I got to her apartment. I rang the bell. I rang every bell in the apartment. Eventually, a woman came and opened the door and I asked if she was my sister’s roommate. She was not. We walked about the stairs to the front door and knocked. No answer. The extremely generous couple that lived below her invited me and my poor traumatized cat in for water and simply to out of the car. I played the gracious generous guest while I seethed with anger. She eventually showed up from work. A shift I had begged her to switch. She was so surprised no one had let me in. Did I knock? Did I knock loud enough? My tired, weary, driven across the country self wanted to push her down the fucking stairs. My cat and I made our way into the third floor apartment with her roommates. Her roommates were nice people; however, my sister had neglected to tell them about the length or my stay, I assumed about a week or two. I needed to find my own apartment and then I would be out of everyone’s hair.
This was years ago, but it is still the same game. I come to visit. She isn’t home. The last time I got to her apartment after a two-hour drive. I texted her when I left, when I was on my way, spoke to her on the phone, agitated that she was at the store buying emergency cat food, for her cat. She assured me she would be there when I showed up. I got there. I called her. No answer. I really had to pee. My mom called to tell me she’d be there soon. I waited, one minute, two minutes, about seven. I know it doesn’t sound long, but it is when you have to pee and have driven two hours and made all these check-ins to assure someone would be there. I left. We eventually passed each other at an intersection. She waved in her clueless way. I flipped her off in my I will leave doll hair on your face for when you wake up way.
I called and the first thing she asked is “Gawwd, are you coming back now?”
I shrieked no, I was not coming back and she should suck a bag of dicks. You fucking bitch.
Maybe I over-reacted, but it has been a cumulative effect.
I should probably give up on her. Throw in the towel, but American culture and the family unit make cutting your family off really taboo and awkward, even if it is the most sensible choice.
So, siblings, can’t live with them, certainly, but can you live without them?