“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”Gilda Radner

Monday, November 21, 2011

Nothing Like A Sister

I had to share a pink bedroom with my sister until I was thirteen.  Actually, wait.  When I was first born, my parents didn't know what to do with me, so they put me in the bathroom.  I'm not exactly sure how much time passed before they put my crib in the bedroom with Janie, but I'm willing to bet it was shortly after my grandfather found out and said, "What the hell do you mean, you keep her in the bathroom??"

It was very important to Jane, who is six years older than me, that I understood from the get-go that the pink bedroom--pink being HER favorite color--was primarily hers and that, for me, it was simply a place to rest my head at night.  Being me, I couldn't just let that go.  I felt an inherent need to stand up for myself.  To throw my body against the door slamming in my face and heave my way into a room where, no, I wasn't wanted, but where I felt I had a certain right to be.

At age three, I carved my full name--Mary Pat Michalek--into the window sill.

At age four, I stole my sister's markers and drew all over the walls.  And my face, but everyone was more upset about the walls.

At age seven, I created a make-shift swing by swagging a blanket between our bedposts.  They collapsed, the canopies falling on top of me.  The bedposts could not be repaired, so we could never have canopies again.  And the posts always leaned funny after that.

When I was nine I set up a "science lab" using Dixie cups filled with sugar water, which attracted ants (to this day I can hear my sister's shrill voice screaming, "ANTS LOOOOVE SUGAR WATER!  How could you NOT KNOW that?").

I was also generally untidy, but I think that was just endearing.

Periodically, I would enter the pink bedroom to find territories marked off by masking tape.  My bed would be a lonely little island in the far corner of the room.  There was no way to reach the bed without Trespassing, which was strictly forbidden.  Obviously.


When I was five there was a thunderstorm.  The huge kind where the windows rattle and the lightning makes it look like daylight in the room.  Janie scooched over in her bed and made room for me.  She let me share her pillow and she rubbed my back.

When I was six she bought me my first ever Barbie with her own money, and helped me build a dollhouse in our closet out of boxes.  She showed me how to make up stories with the dolls and gave me a whole four square feet to play.

When I was thirteen and we got our own rooms, Jane took me out to celebrate.  She took me to the mall, and bought me lunch in the food court.  We had our pictures taken in one of those little photo booths, and she confided in me about a boy she liked.

When I was sixteen and I liked a boy, she let me lay on her bed and she told me that if any boy got to really know me, he wouldn't be able to help but love me.

When I was nineteen and I hated living at home, she let me visit her at her new house with her new husband any time I wanted.  And she took me out for doughnuts.

When I was twenty-two and my life briefly fell to pieces, we both went back to my parents' house, went up to the pink bedroom room, and laid on the bed while she promised me everything would be okay.

When I was twenty-four and looking the absolutely most beautiful I ever had or ever will, she leaned over and whispered, "I've never, ever seen a happier groom than Joe."

When I was twenty-five and afraid my infant son was in life-threatening danger because he'd been asleep for five hours straight, I called her and she said, "He's fine.  It's fine.  You're doing everything right."

I don't know when she became the best friend I can't live without.  Maybe it's just something about starting out life in a bathroom and then moving in together.  But...is there anything better than a sister?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Mar!! I don't know where I'd be without you, either!!