When we were growing up, my sister and I thought we were total opposites. I was the “smart” one. My sister was the “creative” one. Which meant I grew up thinking that perhaps I wasn’t creative and she grew up thinking that perhaps she wasn’t smart. Both of which could not be further from the truth. We spent our youth and early adulthood thinking we had nothing in common and pretty much went about our separate lives. Now, don’t get me wrong, we did have lots of fun times together as kids – we played baseball, were both on the swim team1, we loved going to Canada’s Wonderland in the summer, and I always slept in my sister’s big bed on Christmas Eve. But, for the most part we had separate friends, separate activities, separate lives. And, if you don’t spend much time talking to one another, beyond saying “YOU ALWAYS GET THE CAR!” or “BUT I TOOK THE CAR IN FOR THE LAST 3 OIL CHANGES IT’S YOUR TURN!!”2, 3, you don’t have much opportunity to discover that you have a tonne of things in common. Which really shouldn’t be all that surprising, given that we share 50% the same genes and grew up in the same environment4.
We seemed to get a lot closer the further we moved apart. First, while I was finishing my last year of high school in Milton, she moved out of the house to go to the Ontario College of Art in Toronto, putting about 50km between us. Not having to live together took away most of the things we used to fight about – the car, the phone, just generally annoying the hell out of each other. Then I moved to Hamilton to go to McMaster University, increasing the distance between us by another 30km. But we really didn’t get to see how similar we are until I moved another 4000+km to the west; apparently we needed three provinces in between us to get perspective. We started to be able to have conversations on the phone and online without annoying each other. We started to have actual, genuine, bonafide *fun* when I visited Ontario, or when she visited me in BC. We started to have, if you can believe it, a real relationship. When my marriage dissolved, I was able to turn to her for support. And I did. I knew I could call her no matter what hour if I needed someone to talk to, someone who would listen and understand me. Having grown up together, even in spite of thinking we were totally alien from one another, we have a lot of the same neuroses. A few months later, when my sister’s marriage dissolved, I was able to return the favour, and be someone she could call, someone who would listen and who would understand. I wouldn’t wish a divorce on anyone, but, man, if you have to go through it, it helps a lot to have someone else going through it too. It was really at this point that my sister and I came to see how many similarities we really have. Granted, we still have our disagreements5, but we are nowhere near the polar opposites we believed ourselves to be. And, since I’m an optimist, and I really do believe that whatever doesn’t destroy you makes you stronger, I like to see the silver lining of both my sister and I going throuogh some challenging times – we both got stronger and we became closer than we ever were before6.
Today is my sister’s birthday and I really just wanted to talk about how happy I am that my sister and I have been able to get to know each other these past few years. Happy birthday, Nancy!
Man, I’m getting sentimental in my old age. Quick, Dr. Beth, say something irreverant! David Emerson is a whore!
1With the notable difference that my sister was actually good at the races, whereas I was mostly in it for the fun and the exercise and rather sucked at the actual racing part.
2I’d usually be saying the former and my sister would usually be saying the latter. Our parents Jeep, which we shared the use of in high school, was a bone of contention, now that I think of it. Also, I think we yelled a lot, hence the ALL CAPS!!!.
3I will concede that she did take the car in for oil changes more often than I did. But I still think she got to use the car a disproporitionate amount of time, so it seemed like she should take the car in for its oil change more often.
4We are only 18 months apart in age, so we really were raised in the same.
5We may or may not have had a fight on the phone not too long ago about correlation.
6Hell, we now both even teach postsecondary courses as sessionals and despite our very different fields (graphic design vs. nutrition/research methods), we even gave a lecture on the same topic (critical thinking/metacognition) this year!
Image credit: I went through my photos and found that I didn’t really have any good photos of my sister, other than ones at my graduation and I figured I shouldn’t be using photos where I am the centre of attention for my sister’s birthday. Although that would be a very sibling thing to do, wouldn’t it? So instead, I (a) made a mental note that I’ve got to get better photos with her next time I see my sister and (b) stole a photo from her Facebook. This one is her about to go on a helicopter ride in Vegas. So. Jealous.