Wednesday, March 14, 2012

"Share With Your Sister."

My dad sent me this photo a while ago. We were about 5 and 3, I think.
"Share with your sister." 

 As an oldest sibling, I've heard this phrase ad nauseum for the past 30 years. And, hammered into me as it was, I did learn to share, not always graciously or particularly well (most two-year-olds think sharing with their newborn sibling is akin to smothering them with a toy or blanket, after all), but though we had rocky points, Jessi and I did carve out a relationship that involved a lot of sharing. 

At a Spaghetti-Western Night Jessi planned. We watched Westerns,
ate spaghetti, and shot dollar-store cap guns during the shooting scenes.
(Photo credit: Mark French)
 We shared toys, although each of us had especial ones that were our own (Jessi had Buh-buh-Bear and Racky Raccoon. I had an unnamed teddy bear and a doll named Baby Dear. So, we were not creative with names back then, unlike my friend Sarah and her famously-named doll, Fred Jesus.). 

 We shared a room until I was 18 and she was 16. This was probably good for us, although not always harmonious, and likely the place where I cut my teeth on passive-aggressive tendencies ("are you going to leave your laundry/shoes/books THERE?" "Are you wearing that hat AGAIN?"), and Jessi cultivated boundaries (and sarcastic responses.). At the same time, we had special moments together, like when our little brother pranked us by setting the alarm clock to go off at 2:00am at top volume, a prank compounded by the fact that we had lain listening to an audio book by spiritual-thriller author Frank Peretti until 1:00am, dozed off into uneasy sleep and then were memorably woken into the certain reality of an alarm clock possessed by a demon of notably evil intent. 

Once, our parents went out of town and took our younger two siblings with them, leaving Jessi and I to the busline and our own devices. We watched a Monkees marathon on TVLAND, and took the bus to get a giant pizza that fed us for three days. We giggled that whole bus ride home, as the other bus riders sniffed inquisitively at the pizza-scented air. 
 We shared college. We both went to Trinity Western University, and for two years studied there at the same time. We took Creative Writing together, and went to improv events, and she studied on the ratty couch in the art studio while I painted sometimes. She was my refuge when I was an RA for a hellish year while she was in Junior Housing complete with a kitchen. 

About a year ago. We were supposed to be cleaning our rooms,
but we turned the stereo on, put on old hats we found,
and had an impromptu dance party.
We shared road trips. We both worked for Worldview Academy summer camps in the summers between college years, road tripping across the US from University to University with a band of fellow itinerant college students, and Jessi drove with me out to California twice after I moved there post-college to teach. Those were the far-apart years. We talked on phone lines between Washington and California, and then Texas to California. She visited my Bay-Area condo and explored San Francisco; I slept on the floor of her room in New Braunfels, Texas the year she lived there and worked for the WVA administrative offices. 

We shared 3 years of living back at home, saving up money to buy cars and homes and a trip to Italy with a couple of friends, after which we have shared 3 years of owning a house together.  

Signing the Mortgage paperwork for our cottage.
We have shared movies, music, concerts, inside jokes, offbeat TV shows, books, favorite writers, favorite foods, and jaunts to Portland, San Francisco, Grand Rapids, Philadelphia, and San Antonio. We sometimes read Robert Burns poetry out loud to each other just for fun. We spent two months watching 5 seasons of LOST, and then watched the final season together. 

We cried over Friday Night Lights, UP, laughed through seasons of 30 Rock and 3rd Rock together while exchanging shoulder rubs after long days at work, and, just before she left for London for 6 weeks, we went to see Toy Story 3 and held hands and cried like we were 7 and 5 again. 

At Victoria's Bakery--required stop (followed by House of Nanking) in San Francisco
And over the past months, she has acquired a new person in her life to share things with. 

It's not the first time (she's a catch)...but it's the longest, and realest. 

 Now I have to share her, and no one really told me how that would feel when it happened. 

I catch myself saving up things to tell her when she gets home, recapping TV shows (engaging in one of my most peevish personal pet peeves) she'll never have time to watch, but since we would have laughed together over it, I tell her all about it (hating myself a little bit all the while.), pouncing on her as soon as she walks in the door. 

Last year's Madcap Concert-venture to the Railroad Revival Tour in Oakland, CA
The trouble is, she's already shared her shares. She's already laughed at the shows they like to watch together, already finished discussing her day at work, already made dinner with someone, already talked about the new book she got, or the article she read. My shares are superfluous, and and even my eyes glaze over as I explain why that Once Upon a Time episode was so horrible, really awful.... 

The latest travel-venture to Asia and Australia did not include me, and the last few concert-ventures included him. 

It's not bad. It's just different. It requires deep breaths, the occasional meltdown, prayer, other friends, and maybe a lot of chocolate.

I've never NOT had a sharing buddy, in a way. Every time a friend got absorbed in a relationship, Jessi and I withstood the gap together. And of course, it shows up the glaring lack of "sharer" in my life. I play third wheel a lot these days, and although both Jessi and her fella are both gracious and loving (and I really genuinely like and enjoy hanging out with him), there are simply many more opportunities to feel third-wheel-ish. 

So I find myself, despite 30 years of practice, learning to share again and in that, learning who I am (again), and who Jessi is in so many new ways.

On top of a medieval bridge in Italy. In the pouring rain.
After our first day of road-tripping narrow
italian freeways and navigating an unforseen mountain pass
complete with snow in our tiny rental car.


sara said...

this made me tear up the tiniest bit.

I can't wait to see how your friendship grows and changes in new, beautiful ways as the years pass and life changes come and go.

Donna Witek said...

Something about the last line of this post brought tears to my eyes, I think because they are words that took an influx of grace to write. Embrace that grace--it's a beautiful thing. --Donna, a lurker who loves reading your words :)

Jessi said...

bah--when have I NOT taken delight in recapping shows with you? When I talk to other people about movies, they scold me for giving away the ending. But when it's you and me, we're sharing insight--giving each other cues to watch for as the story unfolds.

You made me tear up as well.

I love you heaps.

Sarah said...

beautiful words.

Unknown said...


jana.kaye said...

I made you all cry?!

Well your comments made me cry, too, so we are even.

Thanks for your responsive, empathetic hearts.

Jess...recapping is ok...just not the same as experiencing the story together, that's all I meant. And I just feel lame-er watching tv by myself :-p