Friday, January 25, 2013

I Know Everything Because I Am Perfect.

This is me and my sister. We like to sing about the fact that we are sisters while wearing casual outfits.
The great thing about being the oldest in a family largely made up of girls is the fact that my sisters often come to me for advice or comfort. The bad thing about being the oldest in a family largely made up of girls is the fact that my sisters often come to me for advice or comfort.

See what I did there?

Recently my Mom called me and let me know that my sister had called off her engagement. I immediately went into "big sister" mode and was packing a bag of booze and pajama pants before I even hung up the phone. "I'll be there is 3 hours, but I need to stop and get shrimp." I said, grabbing a stack of I HATE MEN mixed CDs I bizarrely have just hanging around the house.

On the drive there, while I watched the farmlands peppered with OSU and Jesus paraphernalia roll by, I thought about relationships and broken relationships and flawed relationships and the fact that I have used this blog to write about my relationship for the past year. I had hoped that somewhere along the line I would finally figure everything out. Maybe become a relationship expert. Happily dole out advice  from the safe and snug and everlasting arms of my marriage. People would want to hate me, but they would see the twinkle in my eye and the twinkle in my patient husband's eye as we gazed lovingly twinkle-eyed at each other. This gazing would maybe happen while I was holding a perfect roast or something AND THEY JUST COULDN'T HATE US BECAUSE WE WERE SO PERFECT.

Surprisingly, a year later, I'm still not perfect. And Brett isn't either. And I have no idea whatsoever how to prepare a roast. So, driving home to help put my sister's life back together made me feel like I was walking onto a construction site with only a half eaten bologna sandwich and a few q-tips. I didn't have the tools. I didn't know what I was doing. I couldn't even pack a proper lunch for this big assed project, for god sake.

So, I decided to just pretend to be perfect the whole time I was home.

My heart ached for her, but I never showed it. I would cook meals, pour champagne, smile and act like this was just a little bump in the road for her and so not a big deal. I encouraged her to buy red lipstick, I made sure I was perfectly put together every day while hinting she should put herself together too, and then I would lock myself in the bathroom and cry bitterly from frustration into my mother's hand towels. I told myself I was helping, because she was tiredly smiling at dinner, absently sipping champagne, never mentioning his name, and styling her hair every day. I WAS BEING AN AMAZING BIG SISTER! LOOK AT ME!

I was being the worst big sister ever.

I caught her crying in my cry space one night, and as I stood outside the door, wondering what to do, I decided to finally do what I should have done the first minute I stepped in the door. I held her. I let her cry and streak her brand new mascara all over my neck and (somehow) in my ear. I held her until she stopped crying. And then asked her if she wanted to get drunk in our pajamas together.

 Then I drunkenly and elaborately plotted the death of her ex.

And I finally got out those "I hate men" CDs and we danced to them wildly and stupidly and not-at-all-sexily.

And I told her that no love is ever perfect. No relationship is ever finely hand stitched together. No one has the answers at all, and we're all kind of figuring this out as we go.

And someone will come along who was happy to be perfectly imperfect with her. And they would argue. And he would be a douche sometimes. And they would never have all of the answers together.

And that's all I could ever wish for her. A totally imperfect life.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Take the plunge. Just drink rum first.

"You have to go down." Brett whispered behind me as I furiously wiped snow from my face. We were standing on top of THIS MOUNTAIN:
and I wasn't having it.

"I can't. Oh my God if you love me you would not make me do this." I hissed at him through a maniacal smile I was putting on for the rest of the family.

"It's a bump. A tiny bump. Your 5 year old nephew is staring at you."

"He's YOUR nephew too. In fact," I said, backing away and crossing my arms. "I'm slightly concerned with how you haven't really "adopted" him yet after 6 years with me. Would you like to talk about that? Your feelings maybe of being an uncle? Do you not feel ready for the responsibility? I'm happy to work through this with you."

"You're stalling." Brett hissed back before fixing a brilliant smile on our nephew who was hopping foot to foot while watching us with a mini furrowed brow. "Elias..." Brett cooed. "You are the best, BRAVEST nephew ever! I love you!"

"I LOVE YOU UNCLE BRETTTTTT!" Elias sang back, before breaking off in confusion. "Why is Auntie crawling?"

At this point I was, actually, on my hands and knees backing away from the gaping mouth of doom. From the corner of my eye I saw my sister and her fiance Clark board a flimsy sled and speed giggling down the hill, all pink cheeks and youth and promise. I looked over my shoulder to meet Brett's annoyed face and Elias' concerned one.

"They are young." I snapped. "They are closer to the ground, so they won't sustain as much injury."

And then: two things happened at once. Brett sighed and looked at the ground, saying: "Do you really want to go through your life afraid of everything?" At the same time Elias got on his hands and knees and whimpered: "I'm scared of the hill too, Auntie."


So, they had me. I grabbed on to a black inner tube and march-crawled back to the top of the hill. After letting about 32 people go before me, I closed my eyes and pushed off.

But, I had dug my boot so deep into the snow I actually was only inching- slowly and painfully- down the massive mountain. My brother-in-law was bent over laughing, Brett's mouth was hanging open in shock, and my nephew was back to hopping from foot to foot, cheering me on and then breaking off his cheers with questions of "Is she dying?"

Finally, Brett walked about 2 feet down to me and reached out his hand. "Go down the hill with me." He said.

"There is a slick of ice down at the bottom. One of us may snap our necks and-"

"You just have to let go, sweetheart. I mean, sometimes you just have to go down the damn hill."

I looked up at his snow covered form then, and tentatively took his hand. I knew he was right. This was the last day in 2012, and I was spending it swigging from a thermos of rum and tea and crawling around the top of a hill. Not my finest moment. If I wanted anything for myself, and for the people I love: it was to show them that being courageous and taking a leap of faith once and awhile is the right thing to do. Sure, you might break your neck on a patch of ice. But, more often than not you will have an awesome ride.

So did I have an awesome ride? Um. Not really. I might have dug my nails so hard into the inner tube I broke one off. I might have screamed my head off as we sped over the ice bumps. Brett might have been laughing so hard into the back of my neck I'm pretty sure his tilted position and guffaws made us GO FASTER, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.

But, I did it.

And went again.

And Elias spent the rest of the day zooming down the hill with his Uncle Clark, who patiently was the last person on the mountain with him. He even peed his pants because he refused to get down when we were all ready to go.

Happy 2013, everyone. Take the plunge.

Just wear a helmet. And bring a thermos of rum.