My sister is also my best friend. I’m five years younger than she is and never let her forget it. Growing up we were anything but close. I was the little twerp who marked all over her beloved ballerina doll with a black magic marker, rummaged through her things and followed her around like a lost puppy. I wanted to be just like her. We not only shared a room but also a double size bed. She’ll be the first to tell you that she got the short end of the stick on that deal since I was a chronic bed wetter until I was practically grown. Joking! But I was a little old for bed wetting when I finally stopped at around age nine. I’m sure she will gladly correct me if I have the age that I finally stopped wrong. I think she has that milestone forever engraved in her memory. She loves to remind me of the many nights she suffered at my hands after being awakened by that familiar and dreaded feeling of something warm and wet hitting her leg.
We both have memories of some made-up games that we used to play while in bed when we were supposed to be “sleeping”. In one we took turns grabbing miscellaneous items from dressers and drawers in the room such as cards, bobby pins, pony tail ties, marbles, pennies, etc. We would spread them out on the bed in between us and look them over for a few minutes. One had to cover their eyes while the other would grab and hide one item and the other had to guess what was missing from the pile. Another was mash the bruise where we took turns pressing on each others bruises to see if they hurt. I guess some actually didn’t, otherwise what was the point! Cut us some slack! We weren’t allowed any lights or talking and as lame as it sounds, our games often entertained us until we finally got sleepy.
We also have a brother who was the middle child. We dubbed him our mom’s favorite. (Now that I have two girls and a boy, I finally get that whole mother/son thing). He was three years older than me and two years younger than her. They always teamed up and made it their mission in life to torment me. I made a pretty good whiney target, too. I remember my sister once talked me into letting her trace the slightly visible veins on my face with an ink pen, and her once pinning me down while she spit on my face and not letting me up until it had run down to my neck! She also convinced me for years that I was adopted, that I was really my aunt’s illegitimate child and I believed her because I looked more like my aunt than either of my parents. I still sometimes wonder about that one! I’m not sure why I worshiped the ground she walked on. Her penance in life for mistreating me came in the form of three very mischievous (but lovable) boys.
Our relationship began to change from stalker/tormentor (I was the stalker, constantly following her and her friends from room to room. The tormentor title needs no further explanation. See above.) to more of a friendship sometime around her senior year. It was at that point she realized she needed to make peace with me to in order to keep me quiet. She had to change me from the historic tattle tail of previous years into an ally and in order to do that she was forced to treat me a little better. After all, we were stuck sharing a room and if she was going to get away with those late night phone calls and private conversations that I was overjoyed to be present for, she needed me to keep my big mouth shut. Too bad I didn’t realize how much power I had at the time.
By the time I started high school we had become pretty close. Looking back, she was always there for me when life wasn’t peachy. Once we reached that point of closeness, we’ve never really drifted apart, even when I lived 1800 miles away. Sure, we’ve had some differences, but over the years and into our adulthood we’ve only gotten closer.
Four years ago my sister, brother-in-law and three nephews moved into a house one house down from ours. Admittedly, it was difficult for me at first. The kids were back and forth constantly and after living away from home for many years while my husband served in the Military, we’d gotten used to having our “space”. In the beginning, I felt a little invaded upon and wondered if it had been a mistake. After the initial adjustment of it, I never regretted them being our neighbors and didn’t realize how dependent I’d become on the closeness of them being right there until they recently moved.
The kids were in school together at various points in time over the past four years, on the same baseball teams, we shared carpools, etc. If either of us wanted to browse the other’s closet, we'd just walk down to see what the other might have to wear. (Ironically neither of us had much to choose from) If one needed cash but wasn’t up for a trip to the ATM, we’d help a sister out if at all possible. Out of eggs? No problem. Send the kids down. My sister was my eyes and ears when our oldest was home alone for the weekend and I was hers. The kids are locked out? No problem. They had a place to hang until we got home. Need someone to feed the dogs while you’re out of town? No worries. About a week before they moved out she called asking if I had some ummm, feminine hygeine products to hold her over until the next day. As I met her on the sidewalk I said, "Yeah, well I bet the new neighbors won't bring you tampons!" The list of little conveniences goes on and on. Sometimes you don’t appreciate things until they’re gone.
When they first moved out last month it was too chaotic to miss them immediately. They literally moved out and within a few days it was time for our annual (family and friends) camping trip so we were all gone for a few weeks. It’s been about six weeks now and it's finally starting to sink in, but I still occasionally find myself looking down at their house when I’m outside just to see who's home. It’s like a habit that will take a while to break.
I’m very happy for them. They bought a nice, big house and it's only about five minutes up the road. I just miss them being right there, one house away. It’s the little things. Besides, who else am I going to gossip with about the neighbors?