To My Sister Megan On Her Birthday
MY SISTER MEGAN
My sister Megan is a real gem.
Today is her birthday.
She is older, which she rarely likes to admit. “Why don’t you guess who is older?” she will ask a stranger. She feigns surprise when said stranger points out that she looks younger because inevitably I have recently had a baby and her kids are old enough to allow her to sleep through the entire night. “Sorry, I haven’t had time to get to the face factory,” I reply. “I am working on a few hours sleep and my uterus isn’t totally healed. So, yeah, she probably does look younger right now.”
In the late 70s she would occasionally let me sit on her lap so that she could read me a book or whisper in my ear that I was probably adopted. It made sense then just as much as it does now, why does she look like she was born in Greece and I look like I have been kept in a prison in Antarctica?
In 1980 after the lone visit we had with our dad to Valley Forge Park she pulled me aside to notify me that he wasn’t the most reliable person. She was right; we didn’t see him again until 2011.
In the mid-80s after she had gotten in trouble she forced me to do most of the heavy lifting required to shovel two feet of snow off an uphill driveway. Now I refuse to vacation in cold climates and see a chiropractor regularly.
In the late 80s, while my mom was out of town, she decided to throw a party at our house while I was under her supervision. She did not anticipate that I would get the stomach flu. She moped up my vomit while wearing a bandana and a clothespin over her nose and then promptly convinced my friend’s mother to let me spend the night at their house. “If she says she feels sick she’s kidding.” The next morning she made me clean up beer cans in the lawn as part of some adolescent prison war camp.
As kids she would make me drink extra large glasses of milk knowing dairy makes me gag. She placed tape across the center of our shared room so I wouldn’t touch her A-Ha or Kirk Cameron posters. She insisted I French braid her horsehair and listen to Corey Hart records on repeat. We roller-skated to Barry Manilow and Barbara Streisand albums like middle-aged women.
In the early 90s she made me break up with her clingy boyfriend while she hid in my mother’s closet. It took him three hours to leave.
In the mid-90s she let me visit her while in her senior year of college. She went out to bars with her friends while I stayed up late in her dorm room writing her English papers.
Throughout college she sent me money she couldn’t spare so I could go out for cocktails with my roommates.
In the early 2000s we were travel companions on a trip to Belgium highlighted by watching a non-speaking sales clerk casually sing along to extremely offensive rap lyrics. She yelled at me while crossing streets like she did when I was five. “I can walk!” I would scream back at her. We ate plenty of Belgium waffles and drank beer before we realized our bodies hate gluten.
By the mid 2000s she had encouraged me to start a new life in Southern California. “It will be great for your career and it’s an ideal vacation destination for me!” She would still call me regularly to ask me to look up New York City ferry schedules even though I lived across the country and she could get Wi-Fi on her cell phone.
In 2007 she stood beside me at my wedding and gave a sweet toast to my new husband. I allowed her to sing back up when I serenaded my guests, even though she is tone deaf and she wore a white dress.
After the birth of each child she would visit and make sure I had enough rest, the house was clean, and that I could stay home with her kids while she stole my car and went shopping at Neiman Marcus. She begrudgingly cut the cord at the birth of my third child after napping up to the moment of the head’s crowning. “Do I have to?” she asked the nurse who was holding up a pair of scissors and my umbilical cord. Then she promptly left the hospital so she could go back to my house and try on my clothes, shoes, and jewelry before I returned.
She reads my articles and listens to my podcasts even though she never watches reality television and therefore never knows the identity of my guests. She will drive hours south to sit in the back of an audience and laugh loudest at my jokes. She takes my calls late at night even if it is to hear me complain. She told me today she would do research for me if I was willing to pay her a fee.
My sister Megan is a real gem.
Happy Birthday, hot stuff.