My baby sister turns twenty-one today! I knew that I wanted to write a little something for her, so a few weeks ago I started casting around for special memories. I wanted something that would perfectly encapsulate our relationship. I thought about how protective I feel of her, how all I ever want to do is defend her, and tried to think of some kind of story that would represent that feeling.
And then, quite out of the blue, I remembered something. Something I had completely forgotten about.
I moved to Connecticut with my family when I was fourteen. To say that I had a hard time adjusting would be an understatement. At a certain point in my freshman year, I had had enough. I started scheming about how I could get my parents to let me move back to California and stay with a friend. I plotted this so carefully, trying to pick the right moment to broach the subject, but in the heat of a desperate dinner blowout I blurted out my plans. I got a resounding no.
I begged and I screamed, but when those things didn’t work I threatened to kill myself. They still didn’t cave, so I stormed off to my room.
I don’t think I would have gone through with it, but obviously my threat got my parents’ attention. Both of them came to visit to me in my room that night, to plead with me, to tell me how frustrated and scared they were. I remember feeling so tired and empty. I sat there in the middle of my bedroom floor, and said nothing.
But what I remember the most about that night is what happened after my parents left my room. Janey, who was eleven at the time, came tip-toeing up the stairs with a jar full of Sour Patch kids. If memory serves, we didn’t really talk about anything. She just sat with me for a little while, sharing her candy with me.
This is the heart of sisterhood. Sometimes you love her to pieces, sometimes she drives you crazy. But in those quiet moments, when not a single other person in the world understands you, she’ll be sitting right next to you.
I thought I was going to tell you about my little sister, the one I always feel like I need to shield and protect. But I guess this is more fitting, on her twenty-first birthday, to tell you about all the ways she’s protected me.