My post on nostalgia on Friday got me to thinking about childhood and its various influences. And when you’re one half of a set of sisters, it’s impossible to think about childhood without thinking about the nature of sisterhood. Those of you who have sisters (and are sisters, since I think the brother-sister relationship is a whole different ball game) will perhaps agree that this dynamic is both complex and ever-changing, but ultimately carved in our hearts with a delicate pattern that makes us who we are.
When I made my arrival, my sister had already ruled the roost for nearly three years. I suppose it is unsurprising then, that she was somewhat less than keen to embrace the idea of me. In fact, if word on the parental street can be believed, she tried to feed me to the dog when I was first brought home from the hospital. Not the most auspicious introduction to sisterhood for me, and I’m sure Greta the dog was mightily disappointed at having her snack snatched away too. We managed to make our way through childhood without anyone falling foul of the family pets, but though we were dressed alike on most days, internally we were two very different people. I was a total little mommy’s girl, clinging to the apron strings, and my sister was a tomboy at heart, taking on the world with courage that astounded me. Fists flew and teeth were bared on more than one occasion, and I’m sure my mother despaired of us ever really getting along. And yet, while we may have been quick to tell tales on each other, should either one of us be challenged by an outside force, the sisterhood was quickly united and we fought together as one. It was only internal politics that divided us.
I’m not entirely sure when exactly things started to change. Certainly, when I hit my teenage years, my sister had for the most part already been-there-done-that. So, she took me to my first club, bought me my first drink and dished out advice on dating. Were we friends yet? Not quite. But we were moving closer to that, sharing clothes instead of fisticuffs, and laughing over the ridiculous teachers who despaired of “another Glenn girl”. Far too chatty for our own good apparently.
And now? Now we are still completely different yet entirely the same. She is quite happy to pop out babies like it’s her job, I am the anti-breeder; she supported George Bush and his politics, I think he may just be the first sign of devolution; she is a domestic goddess and I would be lost without Woolies. We share a sarcastic sense of humour that sometimes is funny only to us, along with a thousand jokes that only we know the punch line to, and the ability to know these things through nothing more than a look. We may not email or phone each other every day, but we also share the knowledge that if either one of us really needed the other, a plan would be made to hop on a plane to or from Ireland in a heartbeat. I introduced her to Grey’s Anatomy, she introduced me to The Poisonwood Bible. These are the small moments a sisterhood is made up of. They trace that pattern on our hearts, and mean that without the other person, life would be irrevocably different. Even when we live thousands of kilometres apart, the other is always there.
And so there you have it…an ode to Bridget and Abby.