I’ve been in a slew of bad relationships and situations. The events have varied: the slick quarterback that cheated on me with his ex-girlfriend; quitting my meager drive-thru job with the hopes of obtaining a big girl career (never happened); the almost-fiancé that, after four years, still loved Evan Williams more than me.
I’m not asking for sympathy – I put myself in these places time and time again. Like a moth to a flame.
Maria is three years younger than me and responded with eye rolls in high school, “Yes, I’m the little sister.” We were polar opposites. While she planned her presidency for clubs at school, I planned how to haul kegs through the woods. She would be asleep by 8 PM for volleyball practice in the morning, and I would sneak out the windows to roam through the night.
We never hung out and, more importantly, we never talked. She was embarrassed by my antics, and I was embarrassed I wasn’t a better sister. She opened up to me ever-so-slightly last summer. “You think you could dye a little strip of my hair purple? I can’t reach.” So Maria and I both had strips of periwinkle in our hair for the summer of 2015. That is, until, she landed her big girl internship at Disney.
“Christina, they made me dye it back! It’s not in the dress code!” Months later, once she was home, she would look at me and say, “You wanna get sister tattoos?” The one thing she never wanted, and now she wanted to get one with me, of all people.
I was forgiven. Somehow, and I am still very unsure how this unfolded, but Maria and I now live together in Athens. We both attend The University of Georgia and haven’t killed each other yet. Maria will casually have a glass of wine with dinner, and I’ll rush home to finish homework before passing out during the nightly news.
Our high school fights of playing music too loudly have morphed to cuddling on the couch, watching the newest Good Mythical Morning episode or, yes, playing Kingdom Hearts.
She student teaches, volunteers at churches, helps with Relay for Life, plans events for the community…and asks me to help now. Do you think you could take pictures at this event? Do you want to drive around and put out collection canisters? Do you want to just go have a beer? It’s hard to see past the awkward teenage stage. If you asked me ten years ago if Maria and I could live harmoniously under one roof without parental referees, I’d think you were kidding.
But, here we are, almost a year living together. No fights. No screaming. An occasional prank or two, but nothing too damaging.
The same ones you kicked out of your tree fort for spying; the same ones who, after years of self-hatred and destruction, pick you up, dust you off, and love you anyway. Maria, you remain everything to me. I am so proud to call you my sister.