no room at the inn

“I hate my sister.
She’s such a bitch.
She acts as if she doesn’t even know that I exist…”

So it’s a little crowded around my place right now.

I’ve got a friend staying with me until her apartment becomes available in a couple of weeks and her soon-to-be-husband stays over on the weekends when he drives up to visit. He will be here on Thursday to stay until the apartment opens up.

so that’s two guests.

Then last night, about nine-thirty, I find out that my sister is en route to come visit with her boyfriend. They are staying “for a couple of days.”

so that’s four guests.

and my boyfriend and me.

and two cats.

only two bedrooms.

So it’s a little crowded. It’s not like people aren’t getting along or that anyone is any trouble or anything, but everyone is being so polite it doesn’t feel like a home anymore. I suddenly run a shelter for people who are in between things.

Perhaps I should explain about my sister. She’s the exact opposite of me. She’s younger than I am by three years. She has no plans for future education past her high school diploma. She’s unemployed. She’s planning on moving back home. She’s had a string of boyfriends who either just got out of jail or ended up in jail before they broke up. She lives hard, fast, and quick. She has no concept of tomorrow.

“I love my sister. She’s the best.
She’s cooler than any other girl that I have ever met.”

The things that drive me crazy about her are the very things that I envy about her. She has no obligations. Her car insurance is cancelled? Oh, well. So-and-so doesn’t want to talk to her anymore? Who cares. Want to go somewhere? Just go. No one to confirm with, ask off, plan for, get money for, etc. That’s the beauty of her age. Minimal responsibilities, maximum freedom. I, however, did not take advantage of that when I was her age, and I feel that I probably should have cut loose more. Drive somewhere without telling anyone. Experiment with drugs. Casual sex. All foreign concepts to me.

“She’s got a wall around her nobody can climb.
She lets her ladder down for those who really shine.
I tried to scale it, but to me she’s blind.
So I lit a firecracker, went off in my eye.”

But I’m the responsible daughter. I’m the hard-working daughter. I’m the one who’s supposed to always do the right thing. (“Just as soon as she’s done with that whole acting thing, we can just move on and she can really start her life.”) My parents see what they want to see in me, and they see what they want to see in my sister. She lives her life the way she wants to.

I do, too, don’t get me wrong. I would never be in a situation I hated. I like my job (mostly), I like my theatre/comedy work (more mostly). I get frustrated when my father won’t read my plays because he says females cannot write (I know, I know, it’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard a man say… and it’s my dad.) I get frustrated when they forget why I’m going to LA, or who asked to see my headshot or whatever… and then I remember that they are just trying to live their lives, too, and when they see that my life is different from theirs they get nervous that they won’t have any control or any idea what could happen to me.

“I miss my sister. Why’d she go?”

And that’s what happens when I look at my sister. How can I give her advice when I have no idea what she’s going through? How can I be a role model when she doesn’t want to be anything like me? How can I help her when she doesn’t want any help?

And suddenly, I’m more like my sister than I ever imagined.

She’s going to be okay, I think, if she plays everything a little safer than she currently is. And if she’s not okay, she did exactly what she wanted to do. I guess I’d sacrifice almost anything to say I had no regrets about the course of events in my life.

I just miss being a steady part of her life. She was my best friend when we were kids, and all the moving moved us apart. When I went to college, it was time for her to find out who she was. And she was different from everyone in my family. It made her stronger to be separate. She doesn’t want to be a family, she just wants us to be friends. And it’s hard for me to watch my family dissipate as we get older, and find other things that take up a lot of our time. I regret that I don’t call her more, but my mother says she’s never home anyway. I love her, and she drives me crazy. She loves me and I drive her nuts. I don’t know how to be her friend without trying to constantly protect her. I don’t know how to be any more of a part of her life than she’s let me. I guess I’ll wait until I’m invited. I’m very patient.

“I miss my sister. I miss my sister.
I miss my sister. I really miss her.”
–Juliana Hatfield, “My Sister”

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