Laura and I didn’t always get along but I always wanted to get along with her. I wanted to be her. She always had five cooler years on me and try as I did, I just couldn’t grow up fast enough to catch up with her. I spent years shadowing her, tagging along and inviting myself to hang out with her and her ultra-hip teenaged friends. Inevitably I would get ejected from the room because I was a “baby” but I relished the short moments of inclusion leading up to my rejection.
In my youth I fought Laura and I picked fights with her friends. I viewed her friends as my opponents and constantly pulled pranks on them. I was dismissed as a brat. She had no idea how happy I was to receive any attention from her. I happily took the abuse, banking on the fact that someday, we would be close.
Laura is the middle child and always swore she was adopted, despite the fact that she’s a dead ringer for our Mother. She was just always so cool…without trying. She was confident and hot-headed. She was also the only Owens’ with an athletic bone in her body. Annisa is the eldest. She preferred to spend her time alone in her room; painting cats and artfully crafting romantic poetry that went over all of our heads. Laura dreamed that she would one day reunite with her “true parents” in NYC. Annisa mooned over Princes who would fight Dragons in her honor and I was content to be a Chicken Fried Steak-eating Texan.
We were all so different. Annisa’s IQ is the highest amongst us girls by far. Unfortunately, mental illness laid claim on her in her teens and she has been mostly institunialized since then. She laughs easily, loves readily and truly has the innocence of a child. She’s never had the luxury of living a ‘normal adult life’ but in some ways, I think she has us all beat. Injustices dissipate from her mind in a matter of moments. Every few minutes she’s given the chance to wipe the slate clean and view humanity as something pure, something full of possibilities. She’s in love with love and to her, love is provable at any given moment.
I turned 14 the year that Laura turned 19 and finally our paths were beginning to intersect. We had moved to a small town where kids seemed to grow up faster than average. Soon, I was being taken out in her red Fiero and the ages of the boys we were interested in seemed to meet somewhere in the middle. We were able to share clothes and make-up and I was finally beginning to get the jokes that she and her friends had been sharing for years. My little sister dreams were coming true!!!
Laura even took me to a few parties. She cautiously let me have my fun but was on high alert of predators. One mention of my full lips by an over-aged boy sent her into a fury and we were out of there! I was dumb enough to like the attention of “the men” but smart enough to like the protection of my sister even better.
We’ve been through a lot together. We both married young and for the wrong reasons. We both got divorced for the right reasons. Our familial dysfunction continues to engage and delight us. Some of it is so ridiculous that it literally brings us to tears in laughter. She’s the only person who can make me laugh while crying or cry while laughing. It hurts so good. We are 1,400 miles apart but it never feels like more than a block. Eight year old me swore it would happen and it finally did. My sister is my very best friend.
The sister connection truly began when I moved out of state at 19. I did a bad thing. I went out on a fishing boat and liberally applied “Sun-In” to my dark brunette hair. Surprisingly, it did not come out ‘beach babe blond’. Rather, I looked as though a “trailer trash Cheetah” and “low rent Tiger” had just produced a chromosone missing offspring. Ashamed, I flew back for a Holiday visit to meet another “Sun-In” victim. Laura’s hair was just as patchy and orange as mine. We went to the beauty parlour and jointly decided to “go blond”. We are Brunettes. We both looked ridiculous. Laura kept her “blond up” for way longer than she should have, given her ivory complexion. I can tan and kept mine up for a little while. It was fun while it lasted but natural is way less expensive!
Nobody can make me laugh like she does. We have hated and loved each other. We’re both so stubborn. I have been jealous of her at times and at times, I think she’s been jealous of me. Our laugh sounds the same. If it were recorded and played back to our closest loved ones, I think they’d have a monumental challenge of distinguishing the difference. It’s a shared hysterical laughter that is rooted in the oddness of our life.
Sharing our 20’s together brought us closer to each other than ever. I’ve lived 1,400 miles from her since I was 19 but that didn’t impede our friendship. As we both dated the wrong guys, suffered through bad break-ups and were borderline impoverished at times, I got to witness an amazing thing. I got to witness my single, mother-of-three sister become a strong and inspiring woman. Her legs were as shaky as a new toddler there for a while but eventually, she taught herself to walk tall. She taught herself everything she knows in fact. Once an unsure mother who relied on crappy jobs and subsidies, she has paved her own way through buying and reselling online and has raised three great kids. Allow this Aunt to brag for a moment: Christian is the eldest son (16). He has a part-time job which begins at 5:30 a.m. He gets himself up for this and performs his work before school. He is athletic and is also involved in after-school sports. Matthew is the middle child (15). He’s an old soul who is full of compassion and is involved with ROTC. He also has a part-time job. Jordan is my cooler than cool 11 year old niece. She’s an artist who loves all things animal and is in all AP classes. Laura takes no credit for her kids’ accomplishments but in my humble and totally unbiased opinion, she must have done something right.
We are both in our 30’s now. I worked my way up in the restaurant industry from a server to a salaried manager/events coordinator. The money wasn’t bad for a girl with no college education. I had benefits and was part of the bonus plan. I just wasn’t happy. Nine months ago I took a huge leap and walked away from my job. Taking a cue from my sister, I decided to try my hand at buying and reselling online. There have been some snags along the way and I haven’t always made the best purchases for reselling. I’m learning the ropes and finally seem to be “getting it”. Laura has helped me every step of the way. She has become my mentor. I like to think of our job titles as being “Personal/Anonymous Shoppers”. We hand select items that maybe just one person will have to have in their lives. We get to shop for a living!
I don’t believe in soul mates. I believe in falling in love and sustaining it. I chose my partner. I did not choose my sister but I believe she is my “sister-mate”. If I had the choice to make again, I would choose her every time.
Here’s to laughing until it’s painful, cheese dip and always knowing that there’s someone in your corner.
Have a sister story to share? I’m all ears!