Happy Birthday, Peanut.
Today is a Tuesday. I am at work. There are time sheets to send out, and meetings to schedule, and emails to write but I cannot focus on fucking anything.
Today is not just Tuesday.
It’s my sister’s birthday.
She turns fourteen, which brings her one year further into the hell that is Teenager-dom, Land of Zittiness and New Responsibilities and Insecurity and Mixed-Up Emotions.
I can’t support her through through any of this, though, and it kills me.
She’s almost a decade younger than me. I always called her Peanut and I don’t remember why. (For a brief spell, she tried calling me Elephant in return... That didn’t last long.) I remember holding her in my arms, just a chubby little lump of pink wrapped in a blanket, for the first time. I sat on a very green, very nineties couch in a hospital room and feared that if I squeezed too tight, I might break her.
When she got older, she turned into the little girl that I never was. She loved princesses and dress up and the color pink, and I (a staunch, rebellious tomboy) did not know how to relate to her at all. Instead of trying, I would do things to make her laugh like pretending to serve her cat food for breakfast. I’d make stupid videos on her kiddie camera so that she would find them later on her own. Together we’d make mock cooking shows, with me serving as cameraman, director, lighting crew, and set designer while she made things like Rainbow Cake and Fruit Lasagna with plastic corn and a rubber mallet.
Fast-forward ten years, and I found myself trying to guide her in dealing with the bizzaro way that our house operated, something I was not very good at myself. (There was a lot of yelling, and weird rules, such as “No one can go into the kitchen until Mommy wakes up” and my father wasn’t home a lot.) I found myself answering menstruation questions, and trying to soothe her as she cried about boys that she was in love with on the television. I found her vaguely annoying at times, intentionally stepping on my heels when we walked through the grocery store (“DAD, she’s friggin’ doing it AGAIN…”) and copying everything that I did, from the things I said to the way I dressed. I also found myself reading the Potter series aloud to her, an enthusiastic tween who seemed to enjoy the series as much as I did. I even did all of the character voices, much to her delight.
For many of her birthdays after that, I organized massive Potter themed scavenger hunts that she would discover in the morning when she crept down the steps expectantly. Intricate (and often rhyming) notes written on burnt parchment would lead her to various surprises, such as hand made Chocolate Cauldron Cakes or a Hufflepuff t-shirt that I made with iron on transfers.
Birthdays weren’t a huge deal in our house. That stereotypical American ‘birthday party’ thing really only happened twice for her, and she was too young to remember one of them. I tried to make up for that. I would decorate the house. I’d make her sugary, tooth-rotting treats.
Not this year.
When I moved out of my parents’ house a year and a half ago, my sister was forbidden to speak to me. Or so I assume. I’ve been told by my father that she is angry with me for leaving, and that she no longer has any fond memories of me. I can only guess that I either unconsciously beat her to a pulp with a massive stick, and I’m just not aware that I did so, or someone is feeding her false information about me and my decision to leave.
If you’re reading this Peanut, let me set the record straight. (I know, you’re probably not reading this but it will make me feel better.) Uni loves you. And anyone who tells you different is fucking wrong. I left because living in that house was damaging. I did not abandon anybody. I had every intention of staying connected with you, with our parents, and I followed through with that. I have tried to be close, and I have tried to apologize. No one will listen.
Don’t believe the hype.
I do owe you an apology, though. I am sorry for this whole situation, and for whatever it has put you through. If I had known that this would be the result of moving out, I would not have done it.
We have had our differences, and we have had our fair share of arguments. I was not a perfect sister. However, you must know: I will always have your back if you need me.
Today, I offer you something that I have never given to you in person, or said aloud. Unconditional love. I didn’t get that at home, and I’m not sure if you did either.
I know I’ll see you again some day, and we can pick back up right where we left off.
Happy Birthday, Peanut.