Every now and then, I have these epiphanies that I later regret.
My sister and her boyfriend have been visiting us this week. They are both a couple of years younger than us, also working in IT and living in Romania. Conversation around the dinner table is pretty much 100% geeky as you can imagine.
Now, my sister and I have always been very close. As much as it still pains me to admit it, growing up was not particularly easy. We’ve always had rocky relationships with our parents, and always found comfort in each other’s company. We’ve always been very much alike and it’s our closeness that I miss more than anything else now that we live so far from each other.
Funny thing, life.
It’s never going to be just the two of us again.
I realise this every time we visit each other. I feverishly can’t wait to see her, to rebuild our bridges and connect again. I make plans, I go over pieces of dialogue in my mind, I sort our common memories, I prepare myself for what is, even now, the most authentic feeling of belonging I’ve ever experienced. I imagine the two of us talking. In my head, it’s pretty much all we do. Talking and walking the streets together. Feeling safe and familiar.
Our meetings leave me in mental and physical agony. We somehow end up not talking, not walking, not feeling. Or is this what our talking, walking and feeling have become? It could be, stranger things have happened. Our relationship might have simply grown into this array of chitchats about diets, fashion and who else got married or had a baby, all dutifully supervised by boyfriends, fellow tube passengers, bartenders and shopkeepers.
I have a picture of my sister in my mind, this version of her so much like me it’s almost scary. An old version. She’s growing up into this new person I don’t really know, and most of the time I just want to slap her out of it. I’ve only been gone for a couple of years, what’s wrong with you? And it wasn’t even your formative ones. I remember them, your formative years, you drove me crazy more than half the time. I was there. I wanted to strangle you pretty much every other day. But we made it through and now, all grown up and with nothing between us but a silly slice of continent, the only version of us I’ve ever known or wanted to know is falling apart.
Last Easter I went to Romania for a couple of weeks. My sister and I ended up sharing a room in our parents’ house. One night, we were both lying in our beds in the dark, and for some reason I ended up telling her what the Twilight book was about. I’d very reluctantly read it on the flight over, the fateful circumstances of which I’ll get into some other time. There we were, whispering about the impossible love between Bella and Edward, her asking purposefully annoying questions, both of us laughing at the silliness of it all. I can almost see it.
And then I look across the table and there she is, my sister, this young woman I sometimes no longer know inside out.