My baby sister is just like me in all the ways that matter, in all the ways afforded to sisters who were born six years apart. I’ve somehow forged somewhat of a clone out of this fourteen-year-old mold. She’s like me in the way that earns a snide, ‘did your sister tell you that?’ to opinions we share or ‘you sound just like your sister’ in arguments I’m not even a part of.
She’s taller than me in the way all younger sisters are taller than their older sisters. She’s nicer than me in the way that grants her leniency when she fucks up, given courtesies I was not.
My little sister is — and I say this without an ounce of bitterness — better than me. In the way all new generations are better than the last, in the way you hope for a better future.
In the way my dad’s ex-girlfriend confirmed when we got in a screaming match in the driveway. Your sister is normal. She’s smart.
We joke about it, though my mom doesn’t think it’s funny — neither of you is better than the other — but I think it’s good. I like the idea of the world getting better. My little sister is like the pencil mark on the wall that tracks your height. I look back six years later and see that we have grown, and I’m grateful for it.
The world should be so lucky if she turns out gentle.
Personally, I’m not rooting for it.
On forging paths and leaving them unkept
Just shy of my fourteenth birthday, my dad took me to a One Direction concert. It was my first ever.
Last October, I took my fourteen-year-old sister to her first concert — Harry Styles.
That’s what got me thinking about how life is cyclical.
Younger sisters are supposed to tread gracefully through the path their older sisters have mowed down for them. They’re supposed to merely skin their knees on hills where we broke our bones. They cannot trip over tree roots, peaking out over soft moss, because we’ve been tripped up already and haven’t you learned from your sister’s mistakes.
It’s so easy to pin younger’s failures on their elder sister, but there’s also this wild expectation that, since you’ve seen your older sister fail, you know how not to.
The benefit of forging the path first is that you get to stake your claim. I had a teacher who would bump up the letter grade of the first person to present, which is something like this. My name on the trails soothes my shotty work. There are rocks in the bike path and unkempt grass and uprooted trees that my sister must tend to.
Maybe she’s so good, so much better than me, because we’ve told her she has to be. Maybe she’s punished less because she works to resolve a fight, where I was always looking to start one.
She tends to the path well. She witnessed the mess I made of it. When I was forging through, I did not care for sticks and rocks left behind. Now, she neatly collects them in her handbasket.
In this life, I hope she gets to be graceless.