Sunday, August 16, 2009

My sister

My little sister is 30, which is seven years younger than I am. We've never been what you'd call close, not only because of the age difference, but because we're pretty different personalities. I've always been overly responsible- as the oldest child, especially after my parents divorced when I was 12, it was my job to pick C up from daycare after school and bring her home. My brother, B, who is three years younger than I am and had a tendency to be a bit flaky, would make his way home, usually with a friend or two in tow. Once we were all home, I had to call Mom at work to notifiy her we were all home, then get the two of them a snack and oversee them while they played. (B, again, usually had at least one friend with him. His friends seemed to feel that our house was The Hangout. One of the most common visitors was best man in his wedding two years ago and sold me a car last year!) I sometimes also had to start dinner.

When C was 12, I really have no idea what she did- I only know what she didn't do, because Mom would call me at college and complain to me about it. "She doesn't clean her room, she doesn't do this, she doesn't do that..." Um, yeah, she's not my kid, don't complain to me, I always wanted to say. But I am and always have been A Good Girl, so I always listened and commiserated.

The closest I ever came to rebellion was my freshman year of college, first semester- I basically didn't study much at all. I was free to do whatever I wanted, without my mother being all over me, so I went out for pizza and bowling and hung out chatting with friends through all hours. (I was never a drinker, though- growing up with an alcoholic father cured me of that urge rather young.) Yeah, that was great, until I got my report card for that semester, and the hell that was my life at that point cured me of that- I did well for the rest of college. Not great, but well.

My sister rebelled, oh how she rebelled. She drank, smoked, and snuck out of houses at sleepovers with friends to take the bus into NYC. And she got away with it all, even when people found out about it. People made excuses for her, too!

My sister graduated college, to hear Mom tell it, by the skin of her teeth. My mother said they "let C out of school". Whatever. Three months after graduation, she had a decent job with benefits. (It took me, being all responsible and stuff, nearly a year to land a job with benefits. Yeah, me, with my medical history, lived without health insurance for nearly a year. That's a rant for another day, though...)

C quit that job six months later, without another one lined up, because it "sucked". (Yeah, try working an assembly line in a perfume factory, like I did summers while I was in college!! Or two jobs at once, like I did most of that time as well. It could not possibly have sucked more than that.) My father called me and told me to call my sister and "talk some sense into her". I started laughing. "Dad, number one, the deed is done. Number two, she's never listened to me in her entire life- what on earth makes you think she's going to start now???" C worked as a waitress for the next year or so and quit when she had a nervous breakdown. (Side note: just once in my life, I would like to feel like things would be taken care of if I had a nervous breakdown.) She worked another couple of jobs, including one somewhat related to her major at Big Time Clothing Company in NYC, on Fifth Avenue, no less.

She quit that one two years ago and went to grad school, in art therapy. I snorted when I found out. She's started and quit so many things in her life, my first thought was, "She's never going to finish. It'll be too much work for her."

She finished, graduating this past May. I don't know what she's been doing with her summer, but she leaves in nine days to go to Namibia, to do art therapy on a volunteer basis with kids there. (I hope she brings a vat of sunscreen- she's fairer than I am!)

Maybe, at age 30, she is finally growing up? I hope so. All I know is her entire life, she's gotten away with behaviors that would have gotten me reamed out at half the age she was, and people have always made excuses for her. Hell, people still make excuses for her.

And me? I've always done my best to do The Right Thing, and have always been overlooked as a result.


Her Artichoke Heart said...

C had a nervous breakdown!? I never knew that!

Her Artichoke Heart said...

P.S. I guess it's safe to say she doesn't know you have a blog??

Karin said...

No, she doesn't know.

And I don't know for a fact it was a nervous breakdown. I mean, she never went to a doctor about it or anything that I'm aware of. I just know that i was told she had a nervous breakdown because of all the stress.

I wonder what would have happened if I'd had a nervous breakdown from stress when I was in high school and responsible for keeping my household running.

Her Artichoke Heart said...

Well, on one hand it's flattering your mother thought you were mature and responsible enough to trust you with a lot of responsibility. On the other hand -- it's not fair!