Tag Archives: sisters

Life List #48

If you check out my life list, you’ll see it’s a work (life) in-progress. #48, Take my sister to London, was my dream, but, as I soon learned, not anywhere near my sister’s dream.

It was the eighth day in a row of biblical rain when I called my sister, Alexandra, on a Sunday night in March to complain how tired I was of being in the dark, cold, wet, NYC weather. She felt the same way. We were both feeling spontaneous (which is rare for her) and itching to get away. My original Life List plan was to take my sister to London, a city I’ve always wanted to visit, but it became clear she really didn’t have a desire to go anywhere that wasn’t tropical. Additionally, we both have busy schedules and between that and her grad school schedule/impending wedding, it was becoming nearly impossible to find a date for us to go away together. Midway through our weather conversation, she said, “You know, I have spring break next week and I’m not doing anything.” I scanned my iCal and confirmed if I worked like an animal this week, I could do some light, poolside work the following week.  I was in.

I told my sister she could pick anywhere she wanted. She chose Harbour Island, but, due to spring break week and lack of accommodations on the tiny island, we ended up settling for her second choice, Miami.  I booked tickets at 2:00am and a week later, we we went from 34 degrees and rainy to 82 degrees and sunny. Five days of heaven.

I learned my sister and I are great travel partners. We only argued about the temperature of the room (she likes freezing cold, I hate being cold). We both liked to split beach time and pool time. We both got burned (BADLY).

Alex did my hair, I found our restaurants. We agreed there needed to be a repeat visit to the J.Crew on Lincoln Road, where we bought straw hats and ogled the decor. We both love to walk  for miles (and walk quickly), so we walked nearly everywhere.

She put up with my quest to find the Kelly Wearstler-designed hotels in Miami (The Tides and The Viceroy), and I didn’t complain when we walked our sunburnt selves around in the heat till we found this nail salon/Havaianas store she wanted to go to (My sister’s right. they are the best flip flop ever). She only rolled her eyes a few times while I stopped to snap photos every five feet.

We stayed at a hotel far from the spring break/St. Patrick’s Day action. It was tranquil and spa-like and right on the beach. Perfect for two low-key sisters who like it to be quiet enough  to hear the waves during the day, and have fluffy beds to curl up in at night.

We were both very happy. So happy, in fact, there was some jumping for joy.

For all of our differences, we work well together. We can weather storms, think things through rationally, are each other’s sounding boards, personal Googles, and shared histories. We both agreed this vacation was one of the best things we’d ever done with each other and plan on continuing the tradition once a year. It was something that probably wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t put it on the life list. I’m so glad I did.

In the pic at left, we are also two hot messes of frizzy hair and red lobster-like complexions (there’s our DNA in action!)

P.S. She would kill me if she knew I posted this pic, so let’s just keep it (and the one of her jumping for joy) between us. 

Catch Me If You Can

Being a sister is hard. Having a sister is harder. I know this now, 25 years after wishing, begging, pleading for a sister. I always thought having a younger sister would mean having a permanent playmate-in-residence. Someone on standby for when your school friends can’t make it or for post-playdate hours entertainment.

My sister came along four years after I was born. By the time she caught up to me four years later, I was eight and still waiting for her to learn how to catch a ball, catch up and catch on. We never seemed to overlap on much of anything as young children mainly because of our age difference.

As we hit double digits, it became very clear we were not the same person. In fact, apart from our DNA similarities (which we questioned daily) we didn’t have anything in common. She coveted everything with leopard-print, I liked sea blues and greens. She loved high heels, I preferred flats. She is short with dark hair and an olive complexion. I’m tall with fair skin and green eyes. For fun, I read books and went to museums with a small group of friends. My sister spent endless hours on AIM or at friends houses — she was never without a posse. She went out, I stayed in. Book smart/street smart. And on and on.

I thought everything with her was just a phase. When I hit 20, I was still waiting for her to learn how to catch the ball. We lead entirely separate lives, but I was convinced one day all of that would change. She would come around and we would be like every other sister set I knew, always doing things together, sharing common interests and laughing at the private jokes.

When I was 24, my sister transferred from a university in Connecticut to the Fashion Institute of Technology and moved into my Upper West Side studio apartment with me. We shared 500 square feet of space for six months. I was working from home at the time and kept late hours. She went to bed at 10p and needed total silence and darkness in order to fall asleep. A dressing screen was the only thing separating our sleeping quarters. There were nights where we had screaming matches and sat on either side of the screen on the phone with our mother, who refereed the fight with one daughter calling on the house phone and the other on her cell phone. No matter we could hear each other through the screen, the problem was neither one of us wanted to listen.

Our living situation improved when I was 26 and we moved into separate one bedroom apartments on the Chelsea/West Village border. I lived on the fourth floor and my sister lived right under me on the third floor. But, this still posed a problem. She heard me walking around at night. To counter, she’d call my cell phone incessantly to yell at me. If I didn’t pick up, she’s throw her Jimmy Choo or Manolos against the ceiling hoping the boom of a platform or thud of a five inch heel would get me to stop moving around. The sounds fell on deaf ears.

It wasn’t until recently, in my 29th year, I finally started to realize my sister already caught the ball. It just wasn’t the ball I had thrown. It was a leopard-printed couture-designed ball of her very own. She picked it out of the sky by herself and had been tossing it around for a while. She had caught up to me, but I was too focused on my own questions about her to realize she had already figured things out and was waiting for me to get out on the field and join her. A tentative game of catch after years of waiting.

The funny thing is, now, I’m the one with the catching up to do. Despite that, she’s still willing to share her ball with me, tossing it gently, throwing in the occasional curve ball, but more or less letting me practice. Our catching and throwing styles are different, but we still manage to pass the ball back and forth. And even though we sometimes drop it, the ball always remains just within our reach.

Happy Birthday to my sister, who manages to catch whatever I throw.

“For there is no friend like a sister/in calm or stormy weather/to cheer one on the tedious way/to fetch one if one goes astray/to lift one if one totters down/to strengthen whilst one stands” –Christina Rossetti, Goblin Market

My Dinner with Alex

I had dinner with my sister tonight at a Mexican restaurant she calls “good.”Which, umm, no. It was not good nor was it particularly Mexican. I mean American cheese in a quesadilla? But it was my sister who served up the tastiest morsels this evening. Behold:

About a guy friend’s ex-girlfriend: “I mean she’s 30 and she’s not married.”

After telling her when my haircut/color appointment is: “NEXT Thursday?! OMG, how are you going to walk around like that for a week?!”

Her argument style: “I figured we were fighting anyway, I might as well bring up how much I hate the picture of the baby killing the mother … and the monkey painting. It consolidated the arguments.”

To reiterate, she really hates this monkey painting: “I told him the only reason why everyone compliments it is because there’s nothing else on the walls to look at!”

On her unemployment status (after being employed for three months): I’m sick of everyone saying, jokingly, ‘How’s retirement going, Alex?’ I mean I’m going to get a job. Eventually. Till I have kids, at least.”

Regarding her refined palate: “This place is good. I mean their chips suck because they taste like they’re store-bought, and my chicken’s dry, and your veggies are clearly from a frozen Birdseye bag, but it’s still good here.”

How she gets her dinner for free: “Uhhh, you’re going to pay, right?”

–End scene–