Sisters

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.

To My Future Little Ones on Their Eighteenth Birthdays,

To My Future Little Ones on Their Eighteenth Birthdays,

I have yet to birth or even conceive you so I feel like this is the right time for me to write an unbiased letter and let you know what to expect. I am almost 24 years old. I’m working through what I think is my quarter life crisis and I’m learning some seriously huge lessons. I would like to give you, my treasured little one, some perspective and advice that I wish someone had given me on my eighteenth birthday. Let us begin.

You’re about to enter toddlerhood all over again. Soon you will be birthed into this thing “adults” like to call the “real world”. It’s horrifying. You’re leaving this safe little cocoon and you’re ready to breathe on your own. You will have to explore the world with all of your senses. Give yourself the freedom to touch and push everything that you’re not supposed to and learn some hard lessons several times over until it sinks in.

Life feels like an uphill battle. I’m hoping that in five years I can write you another letter and let you know that it gets better and easier, but I’m not holding my breath. I think maybe you just get used to the constant state of flux.

You’re going to do some hard work in order to find your boundaries. You will try on lots of different hats. You will befriend lots of different people. You might change your life path and career path 20 times in one month. You might sleep with lots of people. My genuine hope for you is that you find your voice. Listen to your gut, listen to your instincts. This is your voice. Let it grow strong and practice speaking up for yourself and your boundaries.

Work hard to understand your visceral reactions to the things around you. Find what you love about yourself and what you want to work on.

Don’t be afraid to grow and change. I have been a multitude of people. Embrace the changes. Challenge yourself to find the core root of who you are and what you believe in, but don’t be afraid to evolve. Strive to remain on a path of continual learning and education. You will outgrow friendships and lovers. Do not take this as a sign that you are doing something wrong. When you are perpetually moving forward, you tend to leave the stagnant behind, it’s natural.

This “life” thing is a total mess and especially in these first few years of quasi-adulthood, don’t be discouraged when things don’t go as planned. Nobody knows what they’re doing and I’m 85% sure that the word “adult” is a completely made up term. The sooner you learn to let go and let the waves take you where they may, the happier you will be. There is a difference between banging your head against the wall and working through something. Your gut will know the answer. Know when to give up and move on, take what you can from each lesson and keep on that path of natural progression.

Pick your battles wisely. Don’t let anyone tell you that all they want is the easiest path for you. (Not even me.) The path of least resistance leads nowhere. Allow yourself to be refined through the fires that life gives you. How did the beautiful mountain ranges come to exist? Or the seaside cliffs of the Pacific? Through immense pressure and earthly pain, over time and throughout the years of nature taking its course. Work hard, be persistent, and know that something beautiful will come of it in the end.

Don’t focus on soul mates. It’s an unlikely possibility, statistically speaking.

If you ever find yourself asking “am I in love?” You’re not. You will know so immediately and it will hit you with such force, that there will be no room for doubt or error. If you find yourself questioning “is this person in love with me?” first seek out your own projections and insecurities, work through them, and if the question still remains, they probably don’t. Move on. And when you do find the person that is as equally enthralled by you as you are by them, have all of the hard conversations right up front. Ask all of the scary questions. If you can handle the answers or come to some kind of agreement, hang on tight. That person is worth it.

Most of all, frequently remind yourself that you are human. This time on Earth is limited. At the end of our lives, you will not remember the fact that you have thirty five cents to your name, but the creative ways in which you survived your early twenties. Give yourself room to breathe. Accept your high standards and your challenges and know that just the fact that you are thinking of where you want to go and who you want to be, are surefire signs that you, my sweet unfathomable angel, will be okay.

Best,
PW