Aug 112006

(Note: I wrote this while on my way to my sister’s wedding. I didn’t know what to do with it. It was written with the blog in mind, that’s why I wrote it in English. So here it is, an open letter to my sister.)

So my little sister is getting married. I almost typed “Who would have thought”, but in fact it is not such a big surprise. But it wouldn’t have been a surprise either if she and her boyfriend had just lived together for the rest of their lives. The only thing that would really have been surprising would have been their separation.

I can’t say much about her husband-to-be. Mostly he is a voice on the telephone saying “Hello.” and “Yes, she’s in, I’ll give her the phone.” But the two times we met I found him very mellow, a little quiet (hard to be anything else in the company of me and my family), intelligent, nice and interesting.

So the only one I can tell something about is my sister. I know her quite good, you know, we spend our childhood together. In fact, she’s my little sister (I know, I have mentioned it). Last time she called on my answering machine, she said “Hello, this is your annoying little sister.” Well, she’s not as annoying to me as she used to be. The one thing that helps is the fact that we don’t have to share a room any longer. At the beginning of this year I would have said that she’s still driving me crazy, but right now I’m glad she did, because for the first time in our lives we told each other what we dislike about each other. Well, the first time since kindergarten anyway.

And then, you know, my sister is not very little anymore. She’s quite big and a lot taller than me. And has been since I were 16 and she 12. You know, four years seem to be a lot, when you’re four and your sister’s just a baby, but when your 39 (almost), the difference is neglectible.

We haven’t been close. Last June I saw her for the first time in a year and the last time before that, my son was still a baby. And we’re not talking a lot on the phone. For years our contact was through our mother, like “Oh, and by the way, your sister is moving in with her boyfriend.” And then I thought, it’d be a good thing to talk to her once in a while, because she’s the only sister I’ll ever have. And only because you didn’t like to share a room with someone as a child, you don’t have to go on resenting that person forever.

Our intense talks on the phone in the last few months have cleared the sky a little bit. And now I can see better, where we are different and alike.

Our parents tend to point out our differences. So she became the painter and architect and I became the musician. I the rational and she the emotional one. I the over-achiever and she the loser. Oops. (Parents be careful. There is enough success for everyone.)

Only when we both moved out into the world could we see that our interests are alike too. She took singing lessons, I took a drawing class, we read some of the same books (although it is really interesting that two people who both devour science fiction and fantasy books (and detective novels) can come up with quite different bookshelves. But we both have lots of them. (Yeah, bookshelves, and books, of course.)

We share an interest in graphic novels, music, computer games, knitting, design and esoteric things. During the last years whenever one of us sheepishly told the other one a new enthusiasm for things like tarot cards, astrology, yoga or tai chi, the other would say; “Oh, you too?”

It’s strange to have someone who is so strange and so alike at the same time, but then that’s one of the big marvels in all families. You know, I’m a Leo with an ascendent Sagittarius and she’s a Sagittarius with an ascendent Leo. (And my son too.)

So we both have big egos, a high sense of moral, like to travel, like to be center stage, are warmhearted and generous, prone to prejudice, but very forgiving. And there the similarities end.

The reason I’m writing this is that marriage marks the end of adolescence. Yes, even today. And even if you have lived together for ages it doesn’t have the same sense of founding a family of your own. Officially, culturally. You know, living together is private, a commitment between two people. Marriage is an institution. It’s legal, it’s public. You’re declaring your independence of your family of origin.

I believe that ritual makes a difference. So you shouldn’t marry because of tax reduction, it should be a soul thing. And it marks the time where you really grow up.

Little sister, let me tell you, while I’ll certainly never stop feeling protective towards you, you’re officially not little any more. And of course I wish you well. May you and your future spouse be blessed in your marriage. May you both live your dreams and find your place in the world. May your relationship be lasting and joyful.

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  2 Responses to “open letter to my sister”

  1. Gutten tag from Malaysia.

    Neil doesn’t know I exist either but who can resist him.

    Especially when he asked for a favour.

    And he’s my favourite writer too 🙂

  2. I almost-love Penn Jillette. He’s a little creepy with his angry, sad nothing-is-sacred attitude. But I love his show Bullshit.

    And Neil Gaiman! What is it with him and the blog world! I just discovered him last year when my husband brought home American Gods.

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