(Don't worry Katy--Yours is coming soon.)
Sevenish months ago, my sister moved away from me and relocated in Albuquerque. At the time, I was more than just a little pissed-off. I felt like we had made a definite agreement--whether it was spoken or not--that we were in this thing together, that the partnership known as "The Smith Sisters" would never be broken up, come hell or head hunter. In fact, it's only been recently that I can talk to her husband (who was, in fact, head hunted and did what he thought was best for his family and career by taking a very lucrative job in New Mexico, but, whateva) without making a conscious effort to be nice.
In our sisterly partnership, I do think that I lucked out being the younger sister. Being 18 months older, Mandy was kind of like my Sacajawea growing up. She checked things out first--and I was always able to learn from her experience. She went to school first, got a bra first, had a boyfriend first. Plus, I definitely reaped the benefits of her battles with my parents over curfew, dating, and allowance. When I got my period--I didn't tell my mom. I told my big sister. She totally hooked me up with the information and supplies I needed. Although she got her drivers license first, I was able to cruise around with her--sans parents--and experienced the freedom of a drivers license without having to take drivers ed!
Not only did I get the benefit of her experience, I also got the benefit of her stuff. Mandy always had cooler stuff, and I am by nature a borrower. Bless her heart for not killing me--because I was ALWAYS taking her clothes--make-up--and whatever else I felt like helping myself to. Sometimes I would drag my feet, letting her get out the door before me so that I could nick one of her sweaters. We'd get on the bus--and she's notice, but it was too late. I actually taught myself to read by stealing her Sweet Valley High novels. Having no interest in the shlop they were giving me to read in the 2nd and 3rd grade, I didn't take to reading. BUT there was kissing in these books, plus my mom said I was too young to read them--so there you have it. In Flagstaff this last weekend, I cruised over to her hotel room, and saw her make-up bag on the bathroom counter. The little sister in me came out in full force, and I couldn't help helping myself to her Clinique powder and cool nude/sparkly eye shadow.
18 months isn't TOO big of a gap, and growing up, we were often on equal ground. When moving around, we knew we always had each other. We ganged up on my little brother together. We played dress-ups together. We wrote notes to each other on the program at church.
As you can imagine, two teenage sisters, both stacked, both easy on the eyes, both clever and fun to be around (if I do say so myself) was more temptation than many boys (and some men) could handle. (My poor parents!) Some poor guy would come around to pick me (or her) up, or hang out, and would get a load of my (her) sister. Immediate conflict would set in between his poor brain and weener. "What? There are two of them? Do I have the best one? Can I have both? How much can I flirt with the sister without pissing her off? Maybe after a few months I can, kind of, switch." For the record--MANDY was the first one to steal a guy from me. His name was Darryl. We were all in a community theater version of The Snow Queen. He and I hit it off, and it wasn't that he didn't like me, or liked her more (I think) but like a long line after him, he just had to have a sample of BOTH Smith Sisters. Surprisingly enough, I don't think we really let guys come between us. It was kind of us-against-them, and they were seriously outnumbered.
During our college years, we experimented on the fringes together. For a short while we were roommates. We left the LDS church around the same time, and shared the pain, and pleasure that decision brought together. We drove the same kind of car--two gray Escort hatchbacks lined up on the street outside my parents' house together. College was a bit tricky for us at times. We fought over girl friends like we had never fought over boys. Ultimately, though, the wisdom of our honorary big sister brought and end to that nonsense.
As women, we have moved away from the competition of our teenage and college years, and trade off the role of leader. I married first. She became a mother first. Now, we look after each other and each other's kids. Last year I had a disaster with day care for Sophie, and I didn't even have to ask her--Mandy just offered to take her for me one day a week. When Madeline, Mandy's oldest started talking, she called me "Momma Boo" for a few heavenly weeks.
I know that I had a hard time organizing my thoughts here. What I really want to do is say thank you to my sister. Thank you for learning life lessons first, and passing them on to me. Thank you for letting your little sister tag along. Thank you for being my friend since I was born. Thank you for loving my kid, and letting me love yours. Thank you for being the woman I look up to most in the world. I love you.