3.07.2013

MY SISTER THE DANCER


I am not a dancer, my sister is. 


                    Let me explain.


The other day in church a friend read aloud a poem about sisters.
It was a lovely worded poem about the endearing and lasting relationship between sisters. 
~ Simply beautiful ~  


The poem held such phrases as;
"sisters bond through tears...sisters measure love in laughter" etc.


While listening to the poem all I could think of was, 
 Yeah? well sisters also scream" I hate you! you are_____(use your imagination here)_____ and I'm never talking to you again!" (all while fighting over clothes and boys in the upstairs hallway at midnight.)

Am I alone here?


Let me explain further.


I have one sister and five brothers. Brooke and  I are eighteen months apart. 

                              Growing up, my sister and I fought like nobody's business.

Sure most of the time we enjoyed sisterly bliss. 

But boy oh boy, there were times that it just wasn't pretty.

Need more evidence? read my other sister posts; 

You'll get the picture.

It wasn't until we graduated High School, got married,
and had children of our own that we really started seeing each other as human beings.

The lines of rivalry and opposition seemed to blur with each kid that we had.

She and I had become...
                                      dare I say it...friends.

Gone were the days of old.


Why? I have wondered. 

        Why all the discontent between us growing up?

A few months ago I found my answer in this quote;




“Of two sisters one is always the watcher, one the dancer.”                                                                                                                    
Louise Gl├╝ck

That was it! 



I struggled for so many years trying to be the dancer but it was never me.
Brooke was the dancer.

And so you know what that makes me -

The watcher. 

Oh, don't worry about me. 
I had a great childhood.
I am good at watching. I am a people person. 
I am a cheerleader (not literally... I wish).  Watching allowed me freedom. 

It just would've been helpful to understand the watcher/dancer thing through my early years. 
You see, I spent most of my young life trying to be better than her,
or at least just as good - buuuut...mostly better than her.



Truthfully though,  


Brooke danced. 

Ask anyone, she was always on the cutting edge, always pushing the boundaries,
always inventing,
always taking the brunt,
always stepping out,
 always questioning, 
always challenging. 

Brooke was Kate, I was Pippa (minus the rockin bod)

Brooke was Beyonce, I was Solange (yeah, never heard of her either)  

Brooke was Barbie, I was Skipper

Brooke was Janet, I was LaToya 

Brooke was Kim and I was Khloe.

I was Jan... 

and Brooke was always Marsha, Marsha, Marsha! 



However, there were times when I danced and Brooke watched.
For instance, while she and I were in Africa, there were many times when Brooke seemed content to sit back and cheer me on and watch while I danced about.   
I have never told her how much that meant to me.


Sisterhood can be a beautifully choreographed performance.

But other times it can go horribly wrong;
Can you can spot the dancer?




or... maybe the watcher who is just darn fed up with the dancer.

Brooke and I had probably the most competitive relationship within our family;
but isn't it funny now that we are grown, it has become one of the strongest relationships.


For my own daughters, Lauren and River and Quincy, they are far enough apart in age 
that there isn't a clear dancer and watcher. 
And as a result they get along wonderfully. 
Sure, they annoy and conflict with each other at times.
 But the competitive element is simply not there. 
I feel a little bad for them. Just think of what they are missing.

Last Saturday we had a birthday party for Brooke, the day before she turned 40.
It was meant to be a fancy party.


Fancy dishes, fancy food, 

fancy decor...


even fancy Pinterest projects.


And although both of us are nearing the age of maturity,
We just couldn't help but act like silly little girls.
Or sometimes more like ten year old boys. My apologies to ten year old boys.

As the evening progressed, us girls sat around the table answering question cards. 

My question was, "what is your favorite memory of Brooke?" 

It wasn't tough to come up with a good one.

Soooo... 

(buckle up)

In High School I worked in the shop at my Dad's tree trimming company.
I would answer phones and shuffle papers, but on Tuesdays I would stay in the office late so that the workers could pick up their paychecks when they came in from the job.

Back then my Dad hired himself a mighty fine looking crew.
The best bunch of ex-cons minimum wage could buy - I'm joking...(kinda)

Most of them looked like characters from Raising Arizona.


One Tuesday when I was about seventeen, I was sitting alone in my Dad's office, looking up all my crushes numbers in the phonebook. All of a sudden I heard the scary sound of my sister's large, white Lincoln Towncar screech to a halt directly in front of the shop.

Now if I would've had any good sense, I would've jumped up right then and locked the door. Instead I sat there with my feet kicked up on the desk listening to X96 and popping my gum.

Brooke stormed in.

A chill ran down my neck.

Her first words were;

"you're wearing my shirt!"

Yep I was.

Brooke's maroon scoop neck fitted tee from The Limited.
(it looked so good on me, how could I not wear it?)
I was wearing her pants too, but I wasn't going to mention that.

I shrugged and with a smart aleck look I said; 

"aaannd....?"

Brooke and I went back and forth in a battle of wills and words and and I'll spare you
 the uncomfortable details.

We glared at each other, not moving. Like a tense showdown between a gazelle and a lion.

Finally, I broke out of her trance, dismissed her and flipped open the phonebook again. 

Brooke said without flinching;

"take it off" 

"pshh...what?" I answered.

You heard me, she stated,

"take. it. off!"

"you're crazy" I coolly said. (dying inside)


"Take it off now, or else!" Brooke said firmly.


"wha' ever!" I said with an eye roll "what are you going to do?"


"Give me my shirt now... or...or...I'll take it off myself-"




I looked slyly out of the corner of my eye to see if she was kidding.

She wasn't.

I figured I was going to call her bluff. 
I gave Brooke a quick smirk and with as much attitude as I could muster,
I spun my chair around and turned up the radio. 

I just sat with my back to her, bobbing my head to the music.

And that's when I felt the simultaneous force of a category five hurricane and a herd of baboons stripping leaves from a tree. 

Before I knew it, my shirt was being pulled up and over my head,
my arms forced upwards, my hair covering my face...
                               and in a blink I was sitting there shirtless.  

I stood up to protest, but Brooke was already walking out the door with her scoop neck shirt in hand along with a few strands of my hair. 

Leaving me standing there in my unmentionables. 

And ya know, even while she yelled, "all you had to do was ask!"
 and hurling her parting insults at me... 

I couldn't help but feel a small bit of admiration for her - 

Similar to the kind of admiration you would have for a good slam at a roller derby match.

The dust settled from Brooke's speedy exit, and I was left standing alone in the office, 
looking at my half naked reflection in the window and wondering what to do. 

Just then, and right on time of course, the work crew drove in from the job - tired, dirty and anxious to collect their paychecks. 

I nervously looked about.

I grabbed the only item of clothing I could see.

An orange mesh safety vest.
There was nothing else to do. 

One by one, the men came in the office only to stop halfway in the doorway as they caught a glimpse of me in my vest (and little else) standing indignant, 
with their paychecks in my outstretched hand. 

I guess they weren't expecting a bonus with their checks.


The men seemed to linger around a bit more than usual that day. 

And if you think this didn't happen, just ask Brooke herself.
She seems to delight whenever that story is told. 

I remember being so upset about the incident but I don't remember telling my parents right off.
In my mind Brooke seemed justified. 

I never would have guessed she and I would be laughing ourselves silly about that day in the office so many years later. 

 At Brooke's party, the story telling started out reasonable, then escalated. At some point our stories became messy and scrambled with Brooke and I dominated the crazy conversation with half sentences, laughs and snorts, daydreams and flashbacks 
most likely only thrilling to us.

And that's when I thought;

Am I me, because of her?
or is she she because of me...
(you got that...right?)


In other words; 
Am I who I am today because of the sister that I grew up with? 

Most definitely. 


So, I am a watcher.
But I am the lucky one. 

She was my scout. 
She was my fall guy. 
She was my safety net.
She was my benchmark.


She was the dancer.



Long before all of this; a long, long time ago... 
I imagine Brooke and I were somewhere in Heaven dangling our feet off the edge of a cloud. Looking down on earth and what was about to become our life as two sisters in a family of five brothers.

At some point I imagine the decision needed to be made of which sister would go first.  

Both being well aware of all the good and the bad that was to come,

I'm sure that I looked at her - 

      and she looked at me...

       and then I said;
                                                          you dance.

Happy birthday sis. 


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