Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Intro to Mama

 I asked my sister, Amanda, to write this one for me. She has, after all, known me my entire life and lets face it, its hard to write about yourself. You can find her general ramblings and musings at Things Everyone Already Knows. Go check out her bloggy sometime, its almost as great as mine.


Introduction to Amy
By Amanda

What's your earliest memory?

Mine: when I was small, my parents lived deep in Alabama. Well, we were about a half hour from Chattanooga, but I didn't know that then. Who needs anything at nearly two but grandparents across the street and a Great Aunt and Uncle next door? But I digress: To one side of our property, someone owned horses. My nearly two year old brain was convinced by a huge round belly in a blue dress full of what was to be my sister that we needed to take them a carrot.

That was it for a while, I lost my time line and perspective being a toddler and with a baby sister or no, lifelong chronology was a non-issue. Consequently: I don't remember anything about her arrival. But like they say: my life was changed.

PART ONE: Growing Up Gemini
My childhood memories stabilize about the time she started walking. I remember her following a nearly four me and calling me Sissy. Even though I was called Mandy, it was a mouthful of a name for her so it was sissy when she was littlest. There was surely a great deal of playtime shared, I know there was a playroom but I'm sure there were toys all over the house. We spent days with our nearby families and playing on swing sets and in sprinklers.

In my old age, now, I forget how very young Amy was when we left. I had been six, I had gone to kindergarten there and between schools and church and cousins, I got away with memories of playdates and classes, but she probably left those there on Sand Mountain and I dragged them with us as the moving got started.

First it was Kansas: where, yes, we were different. If nothing else, we talked funny. I was starting elementary school and Amy was blending in with the other glue eaters at a preschool, surely. Without the old crowd: play dates were a little harder to come by. Eventually, we both made friends our age through scouting or school. But this place began our adventure as best friends.

Our playroom now had a TV and a game system. And I'm pretty sure it was a little bigger than before. For the most part we were close enough to share most of our toys. When I say share, I mean our parents had to buy us each a Rainbow Bright and an equal number of My Little Ponies and ..the Barbies, my goodness the Barbies. Plus, we had the whole basement where we could roller skate to our hearts content. And we did.
Moreover we had the same kinds of imagination: our Barbies had huge melodramatic wars and plot lines. Our stuffed animals had silly face competitions and even the couch cushions were subjected to climbing shenanigans. I just remember the quantities of sheer hilarity we could invent from even such a young age. And things were pretty good between the two of us.

Every year there were road trips from Kansas to Tennessee to visit families and a Christmas reunion where we would show off our silly Midwestern accents to our cousins and stay up late and drink Coca Cola and giggles about Santa. There were Trapper Keepers and Fazz and Multiples. Um. Assorted other trend things we’ve all forgotten.

We were there for 5 years before things got screwy. Dad lost his job for some reason or another. It looked like there was more moving lined up. We didn't know where, or how, or really even when (It took us nearly 18 months to sell that house...) and for a long time, there were drives to Kentucky and Texas and Chattanooga and oh, everywhere in between. We lived in cars and hotel rooms and grandparents houses for one whole summer and almost two, calling a house which was being shown to potential buyers home. (If you don't know: it's not really like home.)

I was 13 when we finally settled in Tennessee where we were DEFINITELY different. We'd been road warriors, after all, and do I even have to say how different the American midwest is? We were worldly, well-educated, well-read and creative. We were nutty, sincere and intelligent. In some ways that alienated our families who never traveled, and a large part of the people who attended the more money strapped schools we were now zoned into who didn’t even seem to realize that different was possible.

Aside from that chaos: we were turning tween-aged. We went to different schools and I'm sure that in some ways, in my 13 year old brain I was too cool for a little sister. But no: we rode the same school bus. Maybe sometimes we were too cool for each other, but sometimes we also sat together. Making up names for the other 'tards on the bus. We gave people back-stories, unflattering ones normally. These were our new dolls.
Keep this in mind: she and I are both Geminis. (Sign of the twin, many different facets to our personalities, etc.) Now here's two teenage girls exploring all of those personalities while trying to share a bathroom. I am PRETTY sure there were some good screaming matches. My awesomeness began to evolve as I tried to edge myself with cool as only a culturally displaced teenage girl could. She seemed, to me at least, to be on the fast track to loserdom. We went to the same school eventually, the same groups at church even but we must have kept our friendship to a few moments a day at home. Maybe.

And slowly, we began to grow out of that and any angst we actually had (about all the moving or the alienation or our parents, which I won’t get into…) we shared. All of our many Gemini traits seemed to play together into a steady stream of sometimes hilarious, sometimes brilliant creativity. We were changing but we were bonding. We UNDERSTOOD in ways that no one around us really could. So the bonding began.
I'm not entirely sure how old we were, but we went on a road trip with our maternal Grandmother to visit Aunt Judy at her place in Alabama. Before that sounds terrifically square, know that it was a veritable den of awesome, considering at least two things:

  • Those two might have been the only sisters who equaled us in the awesome department. They’re terrifically stylish, witty, and strong in their somewhat demure southern ways.The fact that Aunt Judy’s house has always been about the coolest place on earth. It’s ginormous, with the pool and the garden and yes, even the game room which we would have slept in if they’d let us.

  •  What matters more than the year was that it was around the time that Radiohead's Pablo Honey had been around long enough for me to know all of the songs and after Sarah McLaughlin's "Possession" had made its way in to my collection of music (via CASSETTE SINGLE, if that’s not dating us too much) and we must have listened to both about eight million times in that game room, on the pool table making up new games or swimming until we couldn’t stand anymore. The visit was a truce of sorts. We must have both been past that horrible pre-teen angst that all people have, Gemini or not. It didn’t really matter that we were sisters, we talked and bonded over music and movies and everything that WASN’T what a dork the other one was and ESPECIALLY no Barbies, because we were “grown ups” now. We started a new chapter here and it was just as well, because things were soon enough back in an uproar.

I was 16 when it was suddenly time to go to back to Texas. (Perfect age for shifting, right? There went MY prom date.) Amy was 14, this was to be the second of her three high schools, though she didn’t know that at the time. By now, she was a master at assimilation, though, and we while we both threw ourselves into the schools (very demanding and extremely talent ridden) theatre program and the social schedule it entailed. We were essentially there every day for twelve hours or so and sharing a small pool of friends. Somehow our family found a church that was the best fit we’d ever had and there was another group of friends that we had constantly around us. Even at home, it was us in our new Aunt Judy-esque house swimming when it was cold everywhere but Texas or making up fabulous new games to play on our pool table which usually ended when someone got hit with an airborne cue ball. Sure we argued (Napoleon Dynamite style) when she’d use the phone line so I couldn’t check my email, but for the most part we shared a very busy social calendar. We moved again after I graduated. Amy was freshly 16. And there went HER prom date. We grieved that one together: we’d all been close.

Our lives changed after that. We actually were growing up, and the differences we’d bickered about in adolescence were not only irrelevant but forgotten. Even the shared circle of friends had changed once she began the process of completing high school and I began college. I started working at some point along here and between work and college and my imminent assimilation into adulthood there were still shared friends and experiences but Amy was doing much better at keeping her momentum going then than I still am. We still lived together but our home life was beginning to complicate as our parents began what would be their divorce by the time she turned 18. It wasn’t instantaneous, it took two very odd years for it to happen, but not one step of it went well for Amy and I. It’s hard to say how it changed us, but through time it was easy to see whose side these sisters had chosen: our own.

PART TWO: Adulthood and Now

I’m one of two people on the planet who knew all of her boyfriends. There was, in order, a weirdo, a total freak, the acted way beyond his years guy , and the Lego freak. For the most part, they were all sweethearts that I approved of, but needless to say, there wasn’t really one who was her destiny. So when the breakups and the introductions and the timing lined up for her to start dating Tommy it was clear to me that she’d finally met someone who worked. Not that he didn’t have his neuroses, and not that she doesn’t: but they needed each other for the best reasons. He’s sweet and respectful, competent (but not TOO), and what she needs: patient. (JUST SAYIN’) So it has always seemed that their marriage is the most natural thing in the world. Sometimes it seems the whole universe exists just to introduce two people.

When she told me she was pregnant with D, I was 27. Part of me was thinking I wasn’t old enough for my baby sister to be having a baby. But most of me was thinking how awesome it would be to be an Aunt. A lot of energy went to deciding what the baby should call me. Amanda is a lot of word for a little one. The answer was obvious once my unborn BeeGee (before we knew it was a boy (Bee) or girl (Gee), that was the baby’s “name”) started sending me “text messages”. Now, I’m just Aunti, (as decided by my nefu) and it’s the title I am most proud of. He was instantly the light of my life. And I do what I can to step into my non parental role of filling his head with nonsense. When K came it was double the trouble. Where D is light and easy (like I reportedly was), K is opinionated, stubborn (like his mommy). They even resemble us, respectively. I wonder how she managed to have my baby with D, and I think K serves her right. I hope he bites or kicks D, not TOO hard, but just so it makes her regret how ornery she was at whatever age is when he does it.

Part End: Who you’re really dealing with here.

I’m leaving a lot out, but it’s most important to understand who she’s always been to know who she is now. She might have said it all differently but I assume there’s a reason why she asked me to write this for her. (And then waited, in various degrees of patiently.)

The point in all of that was to point out what she comes from and to an extent, how it made her what she is. She’s versatile, flexible and fearless. I think sometimes it’s because she’s had to be, but really I think it’s her nature that made her youth easier for her. And I’m sorry to harp on about it but she has all of the duality you’ll read about in any textbook definition of Gemini. She can also be the most cantankerous person I have ever met. But she’s always up for a good time and a laugh wherever it comes from. People have made the mistake sometimes of thinking she’s stuck up, but really she’s just waiting for the right moment, the right joke. She’s also just really protective of her inner weirdo, who, believe me, is there even if she seems like a perfectly rational together type. To some extent she’s a little bit shy, but I would warn anybody DO NOT go up against her principles. What she believes she knows to be fact and has her reasons for. For example: Breastfeeding IS BEST. I haven’t done the research, I don’t have kids, but I know better than to go up against her on this. What she doesn’t know she wants to, and will research anything. She’s levelheaded enough during a crisis but has a shorter fuse than I do when it comes down to it. I haven’t been on the end of that wrath for a while, which is maybe also why I’m writing this instead of her husband.

Regrettably, I moved away for a job which has turned into more of an adventure than I bargained for, but every step of the way, my sister has supported and cheered for me and listened to my grieving in the many, many conversations we’ve had on the phone or online.

When my heart is breaking for any old or new reason, she’s the only person that understands every bit of why and somehow knows what to say. When there’s success in my life, she celebrates it as her own. The same goes for all of her friends. She was always the one who sends holiday cards, and on time. She does things that I’m too busy (disorganized) for. She takes baths. She has kids and a successful marriage. (Just don’t ask her what the key is. Keys are a sensitive subject in their household.)

I live hundreds of miles away and of all of the life I built where she lives, her little family is the only thing I miss. My snuggly, silly nephews are turning into very cool people. They’re the same age apart as my sister and I. My biggest hope for them? That once all the wrestling over toys and fighting about things they won’t ever remember: they’ll turn out to have the kind of relationship that she and I have.

Only maybe with fewer Barbies...

1 comment:

  1. For the record:

    ALMOST as good!?!?!?

    In that case I left out the part about how dumb you are.




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