Today my sister is two decades old. She has lived through the time when tomagatchis were cool, dial-up was the norm and TV games had cartridges. She is now halfway to forty. (Sorry, Jess, I had to say it.) In case you’re bad at math, that means it’s her twentieth birthday today.
For thirteen of those years we shared a (closet of a) room. We fought about it a lot. Now she lives eight thousand miles away. I can't say that I hate having a room to myself finally, but sometimes when I remember funny things at midnight I miss my roommate.
We share a lot.
We share poetry, CDs, crushes on the sweet Starbucks guy, crushes on indie music, and crushes on things in general.
We share rambling conversations when we talk about the people who scare us and inspire us, the things we’re learning, figuring out how to belong to two countries. She’s a talker. I listened to many of her monologues growing up.
But today, this is my monologue to give you a glimpse of what it’s like to be the little sister of a now twenty-year-old girl named Jessica.
As all older sisters are, sometimes she's bossy. Sometimes if you say an indefinite goodbye to your best friend she orders you to move your mattress into her room and brings you a glass of soy milk until you stop sobbing. And if you're lucky, she'll know what you really want and maybe she'll call your Mom and tell her to make it happen. Even when it turns out to be a bad idea. And then she doesn't whine about it. Even then.
Pretty music makes her cry. So do home videos, goodbyes, and big announcements. Also, if you scare her really badly right before she falls asleep. That makes her cry too.
She's not always that sensitive, though. If you hurt yourself, she giggles. It's like a natural reaction for her. Most of my childhood memories involve these sorts of instances. By about age eight my Mom understood that if Jess came into the house laughing, I was somewhere in the yard bleeding or unconscious.
In spite of that, our childhood was a happy one.
All five of us sisters are the best of friends, but Jess and I were blessed to be kids together while our three older sisters were in another stage of life, turning into beautiful women. We’d build swings and forts and slides in the front yard, which was forever populated with baby bunnies . In summer, we’d spend hours in the pool until our fingers were little raisins and our hair turned to straw. Winter vacation was dominated by video game tournaments and drawn-out Monopoly games which she hated. (It has since stood as our sisterly tradition, which she still hates, yet plays because she loves me. I think.)
Somehow through all of this we grew up; ever so slowly that we didn’t realize it was happening. She became a teenager. Later I became one. And now she’s not again. Suddenly she’s this adventurous, encouraging, godly, young woman who has stared down her fears to reach her dreams.
She’s twenty today.
So here’s to you, my fellow-artist; my roommate; one of my best friends. And here’s to the incredible person you’ve become.