My sister used to be a decent human. But then she turned into a teenager, sending me emails that claim that she “knows everything that has happened between our parents” and me. She even ended that email with a quote saying something about how at the end of your life you the only thing you know is that your family will surround you. Her naivete is almost adorable and I’m sure if there were even just five degrees more separation between us I could see that she is just a teenager who thinks she has a grasp on the world.
She’s fifteen with long flowing red hair that has natural blond highlights throughout. Her braces came off a few years ago and her smile is perfect. Her blue eyes glisten and sparkle when she talks to you excitedly about the boys she likes and how they’re seniors and they’re asking her out.
Our mother was a beauty queen. Miss Glendora 1989. Gorgeous, tall, dark flowing permed hair and big round brushed bangs. She wore a dark lipstick all the time that brought out her creamy complexion and the blueness of her eyes. She’s always been thin and always cared deeply about what the world saw when they saw her.
My sister wasn’t always beautiful. She used to be a pudgy little ten year old and that’s when I loved her the most. She had this adorable round face and awkward buck teeth. Her eyelashes and her eyebrows were too blond for her face and a too-thick-for-a-ten-year-old layer of blond hair coated her arms and legs. She was bright eyed and wanted to know about everything and everyone. She was excited about softball and making friends at school. So it’s no surprise that our mother encouraged her to be conscious about her weight and her appearance.
When Jenna expressed interest in a beauty pageant, my mom took her to the store where they sell gowns for weddings and for prom and Jenna tried on everything. She looked stunning and she knew it. She posted pictures on her Instagram of her in a body hugging white gown and instantly had hundreds of “likes”. People love her. People bow down at her beauty and her charisma.
I am eight years older than my sister. I left home when she was 10 years old. I often wonder if I did a disservice to her by leaving before her teenage years. I remember her crying because our dad made some snide comment about her weight. She whisper-sobbed and let me hold her in my arms. I told her she was beautiful and she didn’t need to listen to him.
Maybe if I had been around to hold her down to the Earth and remind her that looks are not everything, maybe she would care about something other than her hair or the number on the scale. Perhaps if I had stayed, she would still have something in common with her average looking sister. Then when I called her to ask how she’s doing, maybe she would give me a real answer instead of the high tinny voice telling me in her valley girl drawl, “Yeaaaaah!!! Everything is great! School is good, volleyball is great…. we’re just hangin’ out!”
What about the friction of it all? What about the beauty in the grime and dirt, the struggle between the pure and the corrupted? What about literature and art and the struggle with science and God? What about your soul, my love? What do you have to say about that? Let’s stop the petty nonsense. I just want to know how you’re doing.