My sister lives far away which means much of our communication is done via text, phone, and FaceTime versus hugs, coffee, and couch cuddles in real life. Our proximity, like most relationships, has ebbed and flowed with the waves of life. We lived together for the first 12 years of her life but after I moved out to go to college, I never came back. My sister had six more years of living with a parent before she moved out to college. I went to college in Boston for a year and a half but transferred to NYU, moving back to the NYC area, closer to home. When it was her turn to go to college, she stayed local and went to Rutgers in NJ, but she followed my footsteps and transferred mid-degree; only her new college was in San Francisco! This move, unfortunately, coincided with my first pregnancy.
It was my sister’s last weekend in New York and she just had all four of her impacted wisdom teeth extracted. After a few days of recovery, she came to stay with me for the weekend in our apartment in the city. I took this opportunity to announce my new pregnancy. I bought her a few jars of baby food and included a note which said, “You clearly need this baby food now, but I will need it in about a year from now. Love, Your future niece or nephew.” It took her a few reads before she looked up, tears in her eyes, and said, “Wait, what are you saying? Are you seriously pregnant and I’m leaving?” We both burst out crying. How could I go and get pregnant right when she was leaving? Or how can she leave right when I got pregnant?
Life goes on; two sisters, two lives. Two branches on the same tree growing in different directions.
After my sister graduated from art school, she stayed in San Francisco for a couple of years until she lost her connection there and I was going through a divorce. I’m not sure if the two life paths serendipitously crossed at the exact same time, or if she came to be my saviour, but either way, I thanked the ether for bringing her back to me when I needed her most. I moved out of the apartment I shared with my ex-husband on the Upper West Side and into my own apartment on the Upper East Side. My sister moved to NYC and found an apartment FIVE BLOCKS AWAY. I got her a job at the advertising agency in which I worked, in my very group, and her cubicle was right outside my office.
I was newly single, with a three-year-old son, a new job, and my sister now lived five blocks away; a constant dinner date, babysitter, companion, best friend, coworker. We saw Guns and Roses at Madison Square Garden in the luxury box (courtesy of a work vendor), we rang in the New Year in Time’s Square, we rollerbladed 50 blocks down Fifth Avenue when our city had a transit strike. She had a constant pulse on my life, and me hers.
Life moved on.
I moved in with my artist clown boyfriend and got pregnant the following month; my sister met her current boyfriend, with whom she is about to celebrate 6 years together. First, he moved into her apartment, then they moved two hours away, then all the way to Maine, at least a six-hour drive away. She’s lived there for the last four years. She comes home every few months, on a marathon visit where she attempts to visit at least five families in two days and has some extra time with me and the kids. It’s never relaxing for her (despite what she says) and she says it’s totally worth it just to give me a real life hug and hang out for two days.
I often play imagination in my head, like a grown up version of playing house, where I envision sitcom-worthy scenarios where she lives five blocks away again and we have Sunday potluck dinners, with our kids providing the background laugh track.
But life has other plans and/or we have other plans for life. We travel on roads which may not be parallel, but our hearts are on perpetual parallel paths. Sisters have a bond upon which miles have no impact.