Yesterday was my sister's sixteenth birthday. This makes me officially twice her age. What's more, I remember the day, because she was born at home to my Dad and stepmother, and I was there. I saw it (a fact she is not too keen on the older she gets)--partly traumatized, and partly thrilled. I always tell her this detail: I was overwhelmed by the experience and she was so little, I had this actual thought: "What if they put her down and lose her somewhere in the house?" She laughs and thinks I'm weird.
At sixteen, my sister is far more graceful and together than I was (at least what she shows/expresses--I have no idea what her undercurrents look like). I was a mess on just about every level at her age and there was no hiding it. I broiled with resentments I couldn't even articulate at my parents; I was battered by hormones and had put on a lot of weight and hated my physical self. This was knee-deep in my "gotta be different" phase where I dyed my hair shocking red, wore babydoll dresses and flourescent tights while the fashion of the day were color coordinated ensembles from Macy's and the Gap. I had a lot of friends, but one "best" friend--Kelly--and our relationship mirrored the wild tangents that our friends with actual boyfriends had. I was cranky. I slept a lot. I wrote scads and fantasized about movie stars.
I don't know what my sister's interior life is like, but I know she has a secret side; we all do. I do know that she wants to be a doctor or nurse, both because she likes medical procedures and for the money. She is committed to horse-riding. She is getting her driver's license next week. She likes Juicy Coutoure clothing; Jack Johnson & Ben Harper music, and shows like Grey's Anatomy and CSI. She reads books based in reality, not fantasy, and has never had much of an attention span for movies. She's very easy to make laugh, and like a good member of the Rosenfeld clan, a fart joke is all it takes.
Not to get all tragic now, but I grew up without siblings--I was almost 15 when my brother was born. In the bad years, when my Mom was actively drinking and my Dad was...doing what he did...I dreamed of having a sister. I really did. In lieu of one, I sought out older women to be my big sisters. I never figured that I might be the big sister. I don't have any clue what I mean to my sister, except that she seems to want to be in touch with me. She calls and emails, and now that she can drive, who knows how things will change.
Just to show what a sap I am, I called and left her a musical birthday song on her cell phone (recorded, not my own singing), and afterwards, I started to cry. Why? What is it about her turning sixteen that hits me so hard?
I think it comes down to this: After years of feeling alone, and believing I would always be, my siblings are a reminder that I am far from it. That I'm connected. That I have kin.