My sister and I are four years apart. Not a huge age gap, but one that neatly placed me just out of the age bracket acceptable for us to be “friends” for the majority of our lives. When she was entering the world of first jobs, first apartments and independence, I was just starting out in my first year of college. When she started college, I was a terrified freshman in high school. And when she was that terrified freshman, I was a horrifically awkward, gangly, permed, 11 year old. We basically just kept missing each other. But for a brief time period of our lives, we were both “kids.” Kool-Aid fueled, cartoon loving, elementary schooled kids. And therefore, we got to share one of our favorite activities together: making up and performing dance routines in our parents’ basement.
This wasn’t a casual, carefree activity… my sister (as she would continue to do for most of her life) quickly fell into the leader role. This was serious. There were costumes, music selection, and at the end, a “recital” for any family members or neighbors that couldn’t think of excuses to get out of it. My sister would gather up the pink Sony cassette player, and the shoebox of cassette tapes, and pick out a Madonna or Gloria Estefan tape and start choreographing for me. Sometimes I’d get confused and forget what came next, or sometimes I wouldn’t be able to figure out how to do a step and she’d always just look right at me and say through gritted teeth “Do it again.”
But when we were all dressed up in our official recital costumes (consisting of a combination of hand me down leotards and discarded Halloween costumes) and performing for our “audience”, my sister was so proud of me and I was just elated that we were doing something together, and that I had impressed her.
After that time period, it took a long time for us to get back to a point where we understood each other again, and could share similar interests, and could be friends. It’s hard to maintain that sisterly bond when you are just at completely different stages of life, both fiercely independent and protective of each other. Now we are both officially grown-ups, and closer than we ever have been. But every now and then a radio station plays an 80’s flashback song, and I am immediately transported back to my parents basement. “Manic Monday’ playing on the pink cassette player, and my sister smiling proudly at me, both of us oblivious to what the road ahead would hold for us… for the time just happy to be kids together.