Little Sister Yovanoff

I’m not often decisive, and that’s a fact.

But occasionally, I’m marginally organized. This is one of those times, and I’ve decided that before we go any farther, I need to tell you about my sister.

From my junior year on, she’s with me pretty much all the time and yet, in the course of my daily notations, I hardly ever write about her. I mean, I do write about her—I write down her contributions to various conversations, or what she was wearing or funny things she’s said. If we go somewhere together, I mention that she was there.

But the thing is, I don’t study her or plumb the depths of her psyche or speculate on her hopes and dreams, because I feel like I already know her. I never feel disconnected or worry that I’ll forget something important about her, because forgetting her seems impossible, like forgetting my own name, and even though I’m a year older, as far as my particular worldview is concerned, she has never not been there.

Little Sister Yovanoff is both practical and sensible. She inserts herself into tenth grade almost without a ripple, and if she’s troubled by the boredom or the noise, I don’t hear about it. If she ever wishes for excitement or worries about who she is, she keeps it to herself.

maddy laughing

We never have poignant heart-to-hearts or confess things. We don’t tell each other our deepest darkest secrets, but looking at us from the next table or watching from across the hall, you might think we do.

From the outside, we are a united front—the Sisters Yovanoff. We can have whole conversations using nothing but eye-contact. We finish each other’s sentences. If this were a TV show, we would be those quirky, one-dimensional side characters that cult fans quote incessantly and make T-shirts of, but everyone else just kind of finds annoying.

We make up games and then play them, because it’s what we’ve always done, and because school is boring and we think arbitrary rules are funny. The games all have names like 26 Ways of Walking and Word of the Week. We have contests to see who can work nevertheless into casual conversation the most times before someone notices. We make up absurd penalties and elaborate point systems, and then completely ignore them.

I cut her hair and dye it UltraViolent Violet and buy her purple mascara.

She paints my nails glitter-pink and scolds me for improper use of eyeliner and for looking at my feet when I walk.

People are always mistaking us for neighbors, because on the surface, we aren’t even related. In fact, sometimes they think Sisters Yovanoff is just another game we’re playing—that we are best friends who like to trick our classmates into thinking that we’re relatives.

Purple hair

Just below the surface however, we are identical. Over the years, we’ve developed an extensive collection of tics and mannerisms—a certain way of sighing, a particular tone or signature hand-gesture. We can mimic each other almost flawlessly.

Below that, though, the similarities end. Sisters Yovanoff is a game we’re playing—we just happen to actually be sisters.

In truth, we are just as different as we look. Maybe even more. I’m fast and eclectic and vague and a little bit chaotic. She is sweet and dependable, skeptical and stubborn—a bear cub to my hummingbird. She likes arranging things, imposing order, making the world a more attractive place. I like puzzles and figuring things out.

This disparity of temperament has existed since birth. She was a cute, cuddly baby who slept often and walked early. I was a pointy, watchful child who talked constantly and never slept at all. When I was eight, I liked taking apart radios and dissecting frogs. When she was eight, she taught herself calligraphy.

As sisters, we make absolutely no sense. However, as fictional characters,* we are perfectly matched, and as an academic team, it turns out that we are kind of unstoppable. We invent farcical and pretentious term projects, and then dare each other to actually turn them in. My senior year will be characterized by a kind of manic productivity, where every presentation and essay is simply a joke with many facets.

(I suspect that my English teacher is on to me. He regards me with a certain indulgence, like maybe he is quietly amused by my antics. Or at least, he recognizes that I’m being ironic.) (Hers just thinks she’s a bonafide genius.)

We both have plastic sheriff’s badges, but hers is more realistic than mine.** Holding them up, we sometimes claim to be operating in an official capacity—officers or deputies of things that do not have formal regulation, like Common Human Decency or the Coalition to Encourage Proper Use of Pants or anything else that might be considered cynical and mildly hilarious.

Little Sister Yovanoff is excellent at pretending to be a police officer. She’s unsmiling. Resolute. If she disagrees with something or thinks it’s ridiculous, she has this unnerving way of raising her eyebrows and blinking really fast. My senior year, one of our friends will comment that Little Sister Yovanoff is the only person he knows of who can make him feel abjectly stupid simply by biting her lip.

The thing is, on a day to day basis, she is utterly familiar and even though I know that we are not interchangeable, it still seems like I’m always mistaking her for just another piece of me—this propagated clipping, cut from the main plant—and I am repeatedly mystified when it turns out the she is not, in fact . . . me.

She doesn’t listen in on people’s conversations or keep a journal that I know of, but she is permanently attached to my mom’s camera—and always has been, ever since she discovered that pictures were a thing. Maybe since before she could talk. By the time I’m out of college, I will have been the subject of literally thousands of photographs, to the point where I’m dissatisfied when other people take my picture, because they don’t do it like my sister does.

Once, when I have just been approached by my art teacher to join the yearbook staff and am feeling guilty for telling him no, we have the following conversation:

“Why don’t you be a yearbook photographer?” I asked her. “Next year, maybe. Anyone can sign up. And you actually know what you’re doing.”

She tapped her chin with one finger, like she was thinking hard about it. “I take better pictures of people I know. I wouldn’t really want to take pictures of strangers.”

I wanted to tell her they’re not strangers, that we see them everyday. But I think, sometimes, that she doesn’t.

I encourage her to join the yearbook staff because I’m still operating under the misguided assumption that she’s an extension of me and if I can talk her into taking my place, then I will have redeemed myself. She will make up for my sheer laziness and my reluctance to get involved.

I’ve only been able to find one true, uncomplicated snippet of her, one journal entry that isn’t just an observation in the context of something else (in the context of me). It happened on an afternoon in November, when we were just coming in from lunch. The moment was striking, quietly cinematic, and I wrote it down because it seemed to perfectly incapsulate her—this startling mixture of the practical and the fantastical, complicated by an underlying tenderness, like I was seeing past my daily perception to the very best parts of her.

“You know what I would do if I died tomorrow?” Little Sister Yovanoff said, looking over her shoulder at a cluster of kids smoking by the bus bench. “I’d come back as a ghost and I would stand over there—or hover or whatever—and I would blow out their lighters.”

I looked in the direction of the smokers. A thin boy with acne scars was cupping his hand around the flame, chasing it with the tip of his cigarette.

The lighter flickered out. “$%&@!” the boy said, rolling the wheel with his thumb again, trying to keep it lit.

“Maybe someone’s already over there doing it now and we just can’t see them.”

Little Sister Yovanoff shrugged. “That’s even better. They could probably use some help. I mean, look at how many lighters there are to blow out.”

“Eight?” I said. “No, wait. Some of them are sharing.”

“Anyway, I would just do that,” Little Sister Yovanoff said. “For the whole passing period. And when the two-minute bell rang, then maybe I would let them light it and maybe I wouldn’t. But two minutes is not really that long.”

I nodded. “It wouldn’t really be enough, though.”

“No.” Little Sister Yovanoff tilted her head. “But it would be something, wouldn’t it?”


For discussion: Are you close to your siblings? Do you have games or private jokes? And if you are close to them, is that the same as actually knowing them?

Also, I was thinking a lot about about this and I kind of wanted to shake things up, so today I have an actual task for you. Here is the task: I encourage you to think about someone you tend to gloss over or take for granted!

Because watching is good for us. And because underneath the everyday layer of what you expect, they might be surprising. They might be special.

*And oh, we are fictional. We are staunchly devoted to figuring out what to strive for and who to be, but we are not quite there yet.

**Largely because mine is pink.

29 thoughts on “Little Sister Yovanoff

  1. Oh. My. God. Brenna.
    I can’t even tell you how much I love this. It makes me happy and sad and mostly awed.
    It also makes me feel like I was totally uninteresting in high school.
    I know my brothers, but I hardly ever talk to Sean. Neither of us is a small talk person, and we live states apart. But when we’re together, we know each other. And Travis, well you’ve met Travis. Everybody who meets him knows him, and that’s how he wants it.

    • It also makes me feel like I was totally uninteresting in high school.
      Hey now, don’t be hard on yourself—we were mostly only interesting in that way that is trying *waaaay* too hard to be quirky. Also, while we memorized many passages from many books (mostly for ironic effect, naturally) there was very little Shakespeare. Or voicing of opinions. Ever.
      And oh man, I love Travis! It’s crazy how cool I think extroverts are. When someone is something that you are definitely NOT, it’s like they have magical powers.

  2. I am the youngest of six kids. 3 boys 3 girls. And we all shared bed rooms. There was the boys room, and the girls room, and even though I’m over 30 now and we’re all moved out the rooms in the house are still called that. Boys Room. Girls Room. We lived in a tiny house.
    Anyway, I have my two sister, both of whom I love dearly. There is my oldest sister who, being 7 years older than me, falls into to mother status, because I forever thought that my own mother wasn’t cool enough for me. She was married and out of the house by the time I was 12 so there really isn’t that much bonding with her, yet somehow she is my best friend.
    Then there is the other sister. She is 3 years older than me and completely opposite of what I am/was. Although we must have gone to elementary school together I don’t remember it. She was out of Jr. high and high School before I ever got there… We just missed each other by *that much* for everything… But she was the person I spent the most time with throughout those years.
    She was the quiet introvert and I was the extrovert. She would mention that a guy was cute, and I’d ask him out. She’d mention that she liked a band, I’d obtain their entire discography. We worked at the local amusement park together for three years. We went to plays together, shopped together, stayed up late at nights talking together. We shared a room until I was 18 and the last of the brothers moved out of the house, and once in my own room, no matter how much I had wanted it… I was suddenly completely alone. It was pretty sad.
    Anyway – this middle sister was that extension of me, and I’d like to think that she thought the same about me. We spent so much time together and had so many silly things we did. Like playing –That’s Your House – on road trips where we’d find the most dilapidated houses and barns along the way and give them to each other. OR the fact that I can’t hear the tune to “Pop Goes the Weasel” with out flinching thinking she’s going to rap me with he knuckles when the “POP” comes along. That’s just how we were.
    I remember a conversation at the afore mentioned amusement park job with one of the girls I worked with who was complaining about her sister and how much she hated her, and I remember thinking how sad it was that she didn’t love her sisters as much as I loved mine. It was sad.
    Now the question of “if you are close to them, is that the same as actually knowing them?” I’m going to answer YES. I think that I *know* both my sisters really well. It could be that we were all forced to share a room, but we chose to get along and to be each other’s friends. I know what they both like and dislike and I know that if I show up on middle sister’s doorstep bearing gifts of postcards sporting 70’s catalogue models that she will laugh just as hard as I did.

    • I am the youngest of six kids.
      That’s like my aunt, except she was the only girl. My dad and his brothers were all a lot older than her, and when I was growing up, I always tried to imagine what that must have been like.
      One of the amazing things about families (in my opinion) is how, if all goes well, they can help us forge close relationships people who are really different from us. (And I used to work with my sister too—first doing odd job stuff for our dad, who’s a contractor, and then as dishwashers. Even when the actual work was terrible, we had a really good time.)
      I know that if I show up on middle sister’s doorstep bearing gifts of postcards sporting 70’s catalogue models that she will laugh just as hard as I did.

  3. Not 2 weeks ago I wrote the following to a friend, RE your blog:
    “[Brenna] wrote things in notebooks for as long as I can remember (something about them being generic, spiral bound, college rule notebooks instead of a “journal” or, shudder, a “diary” made it seem more important, like she was already a writer instead of just some kid recording their personal angst). She wrote down everything that happened, and it was the truth, mainly. There was things which she stretched, but mainly she told the truth (five points for quote ID). Of course I didn’t know that at the time; she guarded those stacks and stacks of notebooks with her life, kept them piled around her bed and spilling out of her nightstand (they would have been underneath the bed, I’m sure, but it was only a futon on the floor). I wasn’t to touch them, wasn’t to ask what they said, and certainly wasn’t to read them (although I was brave enough to sneak a peek now and then, if she got careless). It was the one thing she wouldn’t let me in on. We did everything together, and then rehashed it again at the end of the day. We analyzed people and events, discerned what we thought to be the truth, and then made up alternate motives and endings for each other’s entertainment, like some sort of mad-libs theater run by two unhinged but determinedly thoughtful puppeteers. But she was also recording not only the events in her life, but also those of everyone around her…as perceived and processed by her, which is also interesting.
    Anyway, the notebooks are coming back out, and she’s started posting excerpts from them on her blog (a decidedly public display which, of course, is maddening for the little sister who never got to read them at the time). And it’s so interesting to read all the things she never told anyone, just wrote down page after page in those journals. Just clearly articulated observations of high school life, which is, of course, incredibly boring on the surface and very complicated underneath. Maybe that’s why I find it so interesting…because I was right there with her to see it, but I just didn’t notice.”
    Also, I will never forgive you for posting a puffy-face picture of me.
    -Little Sister Yovanoff

    • I took it down because I am nice (and DMG scolded me for not finding a better one—I just wanted everyone to see your purple makeup!) (Also, in all the other ones, you are eating something. Because those are the pictures Mom takes best.)
      And I like your Mark Twain quote and being allowed to read your email.
      Which I realize is a huge double standard.
      P.S. I like your face. Even the times it was puffy.

  4. I have an older sister who I think I am pretty close to. We are very different. My sister always says she is an open book. She has no problems saying what she thinks even if it might offend the person she’s telling it to. She’s a tough girl and she doesn’t take crap from anyone. She has Psoriasis and when she was younger, it covered most of her body and it was so painful for her, and I looked up to her for being so strong even though I’m sure all the comments her peers made and the sheer agony of it all hurt her emotionally and physically. It was very rare for her to complain or whine about any of it. My sister is more like our mother in some aspects. She’s bubbly and will talk to any old person on the street, but she can also rip your face off when she’s angry. She yells when she’s angry. I, on the other hand, am more like our father in some aspects. I’m much more quiet when I’m angry and I’m very shy and have trouble in big social situations. I’m definitely not as strong and I complain about EVERYTHING.
    My sister has always been my protector and I love her so very much. I think I know her. At least I hope I do. We’re probably not as close as we used to be because she’s married and has her own life now, but when she lived here she was always taking care of me and helping me get through my issues.

    • The way you describe your sister is nothing like me at all—and *everything* like me when I would babysit my cousins. I think there’s something about the protector role that brings out the mama-bear, even in introverts.
      I’m glad your sister has been so good to you—I love hearing about strong sibling relationships. I keep thinking that one day, I will write a book that is *not* about family, but wow, it keeps not happening! Sibling relationships are amazing, because they’re really not like normal childhood friendships—they don’t fade and you don’t grow out of them. Even when they change a lot, if they were strong when you were growing up, you pretty much just *have* that connection. Even across distance, even when you don’t see each other for a long time.

  5. What a wonderful and inspiring piece about how good being siblings can be.
    I have one sibling, a sister who is almost five years older. Because of our age difference, my mother said it was almost like raising two only children. We were never enrolled in the same school at the same time, we didn’t share friends, and we didn’t share activities or interests. Once, when I was in college, she actually remarked that I was finally worth talking to because I was old enough. Stories like yours makes me very envious of such relationships, because I never had that with my sister, nor do I now.
    Even though we’ve long been adults, we have never grown closer, and I definitely don’t know the real her. The only “her” we see at holidays is grating, though there are few good moments mixed in. She always seems to be presenting some pretentious front of importance or intelligence (which is ridiculous, b/c our whole family is smart, so it doesn’t have to be proved). While it drives me nuts, I’ve come to believe that it’s a layer of protection for fear of not measuring up. I have wished we lived closer so we could get past that, but I don’t know if reduced distance would make a difference. Tonight, though, in a rare occasion, we have been real with one another b/c their beloved 12 year old dog was put down just a few hours ago. Like usual, it takes sad things to bring people together.

    • I have one sibling, a sister who is almost five years older.
      I have an older cousin who I didn’t really know much about until we were adults. (In fact, I *still* don’t know that much about her, which I realize doesn’t even sound that weird to most people, but the cousins in my family tend to be really close.) When I was little, I think she didn’t quite know what to do with me, and then later, we just didn’t see each other much until I was about 20—so like you said, old enough. Now, I love to be able to hang out with her, even for an afternoon (fortuitously, our adult paths have crossed a lot, due to work-travel on both sides).
      I don’t know if reduced distance would make a difference.
      Yes, absolutely. Although I suppose proximity helps with relationships that can only happen very slowly—gives them time to take root, I guess.
      Like usual, it takes sad things to bring people together.
      I hate this so much, but it is so true. I will rail against it, dammit! But I won’t say that it doesn’t work.

      • “I hate this so much, but it is so true. I will rail against it, dammit! But I won’t say that it doesn’t work.”
        Yep, tragedy or sadness works, but the effects between us will be short-lived. At least I know it’s not me specifically that she’s non-communicative with, since she’s also vague and distant with our parents too. Blerg. I don’t mean to sound depressed about this, but I realize that my writing has that feel. It’s just that your incredibly poignant piece made me want a little bit of that. *wistful sigh*

        • No need to apologize! Also, I myself have often been guilty of being distant and vague and it took my a long time to even figure out that I was doing it, let alone how to fix it. Now I’m finally trying really hard to pay attention to how the way I’m conducting myself affects other people.
          But I’m still sometimes that awful person who completely disengages in the middle of conversations. Like, for no good reason!

  6. This post is so beautiful and makes me certain that I was right to spend most of my childhood/young adulthood yearning for an older sister! (I actually finally got a sister when I was pregnant with my own first child, but it feels a little different to have a sissy so small!)
    I have a little brother who is nine years younger than me. Watching him grow up and learning how to relate with him at each new age has been so interesting–first I knew him as a slightly annoying brat kid who took advantage of my powerlessness as a babysitter. Then I “met” a new side of him (and he of me, I’m sure!) when I taught his tenth grade English class (I seem to remember reading in his journal about his plans to have a big party at my parents’ house while they were out of town…ha!). Still later, he lived on my couch for a few months, and we reconnected by staying up late talking and laughing, and then my children woke him up for work early in the mornings. And now, I’m getting to know him as a dad raising his own little girl. Even though the two of us are, in many ways, polar opposites (I was the girl ensconced in a book while he was the boy putting a snowmobile through the frozen lake, for example), there’s a really unique bond we have as siblings. It’s pretty amazing to have this person around–this other adult–who knows you as all the people you’ve been since you were just a kid.
    Thanks for the post; it really got me thinking! :)

    • I always really wanted a brother growing up (I’m not sure why—my friends with brothers had nothing but complaints, while I rarely had a bad thing to say about my sister).
      That’s crazy that you taught your brother’s English class—I can’t even imagine!
      It’s pretty amazing to have this person around–this other adult–who knows you as all the people you’ve been since you were just a kid.
      That’s really one of my favorite things about family—how they’ve been there for all these different versions of you, and you’ve seen the changing versions of them. I love looking at old pictures of my sister and all my cousins, and then mentally superimposing those people on who they are now.

  7. You’re not actually related? In the pictures from the accident post, I was thinking that you sort of look like twins in negative. Something about your cheeks and your chins look so much alike.
    My sister is four years younger. People think we’re twins. Our parents (still) get our names mixed up. Stylistically, we’re basically in sync but only because we steal each others clothes. We have an odd dynamic of the grass always being greener on the other side and making up for what the other lacks. We’re close, but there’s still this game of Things Not Mentioned.

    • Oh, we are absolutely related—but she looks like our mom and I look like our dad. Our face shapes are actually really different, but growing up together, we cultivated this way of tilting our heads or mirroring each other’s facial expressions that has always made people interpret us as similar, even though we don’t look it.
      My sister and I shared clothes right up until she filled out and I . . . didn’t. (When that happened, I just inherited a lot of shirts.)
      We’re close, but there’s still this game of Things Not Mentioned.
      This seems to be a really common way of relating—the close-but-not-too-close method. My sister and I have always been the exact same way. Unspoken keeps things simple!

  8. You are amazing
    I found you from your publisher’s web site, I clicked on your video and needed to find out more about your book.
    This post is beautiful, I love that your sister commented, it was only at the end of her comment…when she said she was your sister that I started to laugh/cry.
    I am a twin, we are one person, we would watch TV shows then discuss them until the cows came home.
    Looking back, we were too serious. But now, now we make time to play.
    I am sending this on to her.

  9. I actually love that line in Scorpio Races! (I’m so in love with that book it’s stupid, but one of my very favorite things about it is Puck’s relationship with Dove, and with her brothers.)

    The way you describe your family reminds me a lot of my cousins—I grew up in close proximity with four of them, and they’re all each within a year of each other, but a lot younger than me and my sister. I spent SO much time watching them during the summers and on weekends and taking them around with me to run errands, but I never really *knew* them until they got older, even though we talked a lot when they were kids. They played together a lot growing up and I always kind of envied that relationship.

    There’s so much quiet pressure in my family to be as different from everyone else as possible, that I think its sort of impossible to know each other through and through

    This is fascinating to me! I don’t think there was ever any true pressure on me to be different from my sister, or the same, but I always felt both simultaneously. We didn’t really diverge until after high school, when it became very clear that we couldn’t mimic each other’s real, grown-up lives because . . . we just couldn’t.

    All my life I thought my older sister was going to go into fashion design. Talk about a surprise when she came home one night to say she’d enrolled in the navy as a nurse/soldier.

    Nothing to say except I love this!

  10. Are you close to your siblings? Do you have games or private jokes? And if you are close to them, is that the same as actually knowing them?

    Also, I was thinking a lot about about this and I kind of wanted to shake things up, so today I have an actual task for you. Here is the task: I encourage you to think about someone you tend to gloss over or take for granted!

    I have one younger sister. She’s two and a half years younger in real life, but only two years behind me in school. We fight so much. My parents tell us that it’s not normal for us to fight like this, that most siblings get along swimmingly, and I want to tell them that’s not true, and tell them how my friend’s brother promised to drive him the six miles home from school, but kicked him out of the car after three miles because he changed his mind, and how another friend’s sister was bothering her late at night, so she snuck outside and scratched creepily at her window. But I don’t.

    Because whether they realize it or not, my sister and I are very close. Our “fighting” wouldn’t be so horrible if they would just back off, not get involved, and let us work things out on our own. Yeah, we might come out of it with bloody scratches and bruises, but for the next five weeks, we’ll cooperate with each other. (True story. One time they didn’t interfere, and we physically fought, and it was over within three minutes. Unlike when they interfere, and it becomes a two-hour-long family argument.)

    We have no specific games or private jokes, but we understand each other. We know how to irritate and soothe the other, and even when what I say doesn’t come out in English or any other real language, she can translate for me. Of course, more often than not, it’s her question that comes out as, “Are wen gone Amy orange?” instead of, “Wait, we’re actually going to Jamba Juice?” but still.

    I know mostly who she is. This year (six weeks that it’s been) has really changed us. She’s a freshman in high school now, and I’m a junior, and suddenly it’s like the whole world is open to us, and it’s terrifying. I’ve comforted her on nights she’s about ready to cry herself to sleep, and that’s the most vulnerable she’s been. I don’t know very much about her friends, except that I hate most of them, and so does she, but I can’t fully know her until she begins to know and trust herself.

    I actually read this post a while back, but was unable to reply at the time. But ever since you issued your task, I’ve been thinking about everyone a lot more. And it’s amazing, but if you open up just a little, people feel obligated to do the same, and all of a sudden, you’re better friends after a two-minute conversation than you have been for the past two years.

    I guess what I’m trying to get at is that I’m a manipulator. But I’m a nice one, a lockbox of secrets, and I don’t use my powers for evil. But that’s a whole other issue. :D

    • Also, someone above mentioned brothers. When I was little, probably around three, I asked my mom, not if I could have another little sibling, but if I could have an older brother. She was really confused, and explained that it doesn’t work like that. But even now, I really wish I had an older brother.

      And my boy-cousin nearest in age to me is six years older and lived too far away growing up, but now, one of my other cousins, who is 12 years older (I have 14 first cousins — the oldest is 18 years older than I — and when you add in their spouses and children, there are 36 of them.) lives literally around the corner, and he and his wife have basically stepped into older-sibling roles for my sister and I. It’s cool, but sad at the same time, because I think I would have made a much better middle child than I do the eldest.

      • I wanted an older brother so badly too, and I remember when I was about eleven, telling one of my friends that. She looked at me like I’d lost my mind and just said “Why?” (She had two, so she probably knew what she was talking about.)

        I think I would have made a much better middle child than I do the eldest.

        I’ve always thought this about myself, and can’t really explain it. In fact, in my Early Childhood psych class in college, when we had to take some kind of predictive birth-order test, I tested squarely as a middle child, with almost no Oldest traits.

    • Up until I was about 16, my sister and I used to settle all our major disagreements by wrestling around, which sometimes devolved into beating the hell out of each other. And you’re right, while it wasn’t an adult way to solve problems, it was really effective because when it was over, it was over. I think our last-ever physical fight was over the TV and ended with both of us lying on the carpet staring at the ceiling.

      My sister is a classic mumbler—I mean, sometimes she doesn’t even use consonants at all. Sometimes it’s just a series of noises, but I can usually decipher what she’s saying by listening to the cadence, and I’m always surprised when other people are confused, because she’s been making these same noises for as long as I’ve known her.

      This year (six weeks that it’s been) has really changed us.

      My understanding of my sister changed a lot because of high school, and then again when we were both in college. It was like we were outgrowing each other, and at the same time, not. Maybe more like growing with each other, into other people. We just needed to keep remembering to give the other space.

      if you open up just a little, people feel obligated to do the same, and all of a sudden, you’re better friends after a two-minute conversation than you have been for the past two years.

      Yes, I love this—I love the stretching of friendships and the getting-to-know-people.

      • The fact that you tested as a middle child is fascinating. Now I’m curious to know what I would be! :D

        when it was over, it was over
        Nobody wants to fight anymore! I think getting to that point as adults is a lot harder, because you really have to wade through the complicated BS in order to get to the point. I think that’s why a lot of adults don’t like teenagers, actually, because we speak our minds, and aren’t sorry for our opinions.

        I’m always surprised when other people are confused
        For some reason, I’ve always accepted that my parents can’t understand, but it was hilarious because the other day, when I realized that only I could understand her. She was trying to say something about her English class when we were having a discussion on the teacher with one of my friends, and my friend suddenly said, “Wait, what?” because he honestly hadn’t understood what she had just said. And when I tried to explain, I realized that this… understanding apparently transcends language, because I understood what she meant, but I could not tell him what she had said.

        Maybe more like growing with each other, into other people. We just needed to keep remembering to give the other space.
        I love this.

  11. I have two older brothers and one younger sister. I am the third born child, but I’m the oldest girl. I have a twin brother who is older than me, but sometimes it’s easy to forget. We have almost no similarities except our birthdays. Half the time, my younger sister and I can be at each other’s throats, though we’ve never actually inflicted physical harm on each other.

    Out of all my siblings, I’m closest to my oldest brother, the first born son of the family. There’s a six year difference between me and my sister, and only thirteen months between my oldest brother and myself. There are days when he makes me so mad I can’t even see straight and then he can make me laugh and forget why I was so mad. There are days when I feel like I can see the thoughts in his head, and in turn, he looks into mine.

    There are so many private jokes between my brothers and I that I can barely keep track of them all. There are whole conversations we can hold solely consisted of inside jokes and references no one else knows. It exhausts everyone around us to try to keep track of the conversations, but for me, we’re just speaking our own language and the interpretators haven’t caught up yet. We keep each other’s secrets, but since he is a boy and I’m girl, there are things I don’t ask him about. I do ask him if he ever wonders about the guy I’ll marry (if ever) and he’ll shrug and go, “He won’t nearly be as awesome as me.”

    Which is probably true.

    There are days when I think my identity is so tightly tied to my brother and our relationship that when the time comes when I need to let him go, I know it’s going to hurt like the dickens. But since I love him unreasonably (and know he does the same for me), wherever he goes, he won’t lose me and I won’t lose him. I keep hold of that.

    • This is great—I always wished for brothers, and I’ve always wondered what it would be like to grow up in a family with more than two children.

      I have a lot of cousins, but they’re much younger than me, and even though I babysat for them a lot, the fact that they were *not* my sisters meant we never really had those typical sibling tensions—they never antagonized me, or if they did, it was easy not to get worked up about it because at the end of the day, I was just going to hand them back to my aunt. (This is really just referring to one specific time when I took them to the pool and they untied my bathing suit top, because most of the time, they were very good.)

      There are whole conversations we can hold solely consisted of inside jokes and references no one else knows.

      My sister and I absolutely destroy at games like Pictionary for this exact reason. In fact, once a long time ago we played Taboo, where you have to get your partner to guess a certain word without saying any of the associated words on the card.

      The whole game pretty much went like this:

      “Oh, you totally know this one. It’s that place we were going to go with Corinna that one time. Only then we didn’t.”
      “Mount Rushmore!”

      And now no one will play with us anymore.

  12. Oh gosh. No one lets me or my brothers be on the same team when we’re playing trivia games either. When we’re all together, the other side ends up completely destroyed…and they’re all mad at us.

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