Before I write about my sister’s wedding, I feel like I should fill in a little background info. (Naturally, this is all from my perspective – I know my siblings would all tell very different versions.) I’m the oldest of four children. My brother Erik (the tall one who makes occasional appearances on this blog) is three years younger than me, then there’s a four year gap between him and my sister. My youngest brother is about a year and a half younger than my sister. So, there was sort of a pairing off of older kids and younger kids and I’ve always been closer to Erik than to my younger two siblings. Over the years, my sister and I have always had a complex relationship.
There are times when we are close and we’ve even lived near each other (in Brooklyn, she lived three blocks away.) Usually, we wouldn’t really talk on the phone too often, but when we got together we’d jabber at each other and have a great time hanging out. I spent three weeks staying with her in San Diego while doing a theatre job and it was so much fun.
But in that way of sisters there have always been dynamics that run through our relationship that date back to when she was a baby. I always feel like there are hidden grievances and buried hurt feelings that are going to rear their head at any moment. (This is because there have been a number of conversations where she airs said grievances that usually happened years prior… ) I also feel like I always have to put forth the effort in the relationship and reach out. This got hard on my when we lived in Brooklyn, as I saw my sister almost every day, usually several times a day. It always seemed like I was listening to her problems and issues, but she never listened to mine.
I left the city as my sister was starting the process of divorcing her husband and dating her former martial arts instructor. I knew my sister was having a rough time and tried to support her as best I could, but I was having a hard time myself. T had gotten laid off and I was devastated to be leaving New York, but knew T was not happy there. (He’s moved all over the country for me, so leaving for him was a no-brainer.) So, it was an emotionally tumultuous time to be sure and I decided that if we were going to have any kind of relationship, there was going to have to be some give and take.
After we left, I know my sister’s life has been tough. Without airing her business on the internet, she’s been through a lot of upheaval. But at the same time, I was dealing with some rough patches of my own. I was miserable in Portland and really missed New York. I was lonely and depressed. It seems like things fell into an emotional detente – I didn’t have anything to offer her, I was too busy dealing with my own stuff. We went out to visit in 2007, just as she was breaking up with the martial arts guy (Awkward!) but we had a good time hanging out in the city together.
We’ve talked sporadically on the phone, just like our usual pattern, but then that sort of stopped. I noticed that her e-mails to me have gotten increasingly impersonal and distant. (The e-mail I got telling me about her engagement sounded like it was coming from Bank of America.) My mom and brother have filled me in on various happenings in her life, but we haven’t talked on the phone in I can’t remember how long. So, I really had no idea what to expect for this weekend, but I honestly thought that the fact that I flew across the country at great expense would be a statement of my support and would make some kind of difference. Apparently, I was wrong.