Everyone remarks, upon seeing us together, how much my sister and I are alike. “You could be twins!” “You look exactly the same!” “How did your parents tell you apart?” I’ve even been mistaken for her at her place of work, in spite of the fact that I’ve got four inches and twenty pounds on her, not to mention a decided lack of scrubs and stethoscope.
We are very similar. I will allow that. Our expressions, our gestures, our smiles, our vocal inflections. But growing up, she was always the big sister. The popular one. The pretty one. The one who talked to boys and – this is important – the one boys spoke to. She was the singer . She competed, and medaled, in vocal competitions. She went to dances. She went to see bands play. She wore a lot of black and purple and leopard print. Her hair was impressive*.
I was awkward, in so many ways. I had a few very close friends. I tried to be fashionable, but failed on many, MANY levels. Talking to boys was either 1. just not happening, 2. to serve as an intermediary for my cuter friends, or 3. to be met with suspicion and conversational flailing, only to realize decades later that the interaction might possibly have been a foray of interest. I wanted – longed! – to sing, but was cut from choir auditions. I rallied enough to try out for the school musical. To this day, I cringe at the memory**. I wore a lot of bleach-splashed denim. My hair was unfortunate.
There’s a whole lot of other history I’m not even going to touch on. I’ll just say that even now, being mistaken for my sister makes me giddy. Yes, I’m delighted that they think I look like her, but it’s more than that. I know her network of friends and coworkers, and how much they depend on and adore my big sister. Being mistaken for her, being told how much I resemble her, is a reminder of how much she brings to this world, and the regard in which she’s held. It’s a reminder of how lucky I am to be related to a caring and beloved person. She’s pretty darned great.
And yes, it gives me fleeting hope I could carry off leopard print and tight black pants. I’m only human.*it was the Eighties, and all about volume.
** “This is my TARDIS. We can go anywhere in time and space. Distant lands, unexplored planets, deep in the reces….” “10th grade auditions. Make it quick. I’m about to a capella some Dan Fogleberg, and badly. Go. Seriously, GO!”