Once, when I was little, I woke my mom up in the middle of the night to tell her that when I grew up, I wanted to be a police officer so I could arrest my older sister because I thought she was that intolerable. We fought over sand at the beach and I once screamed at her for “breathing my air.” She hit me in the face with a swing and gave me my first bloody nose. Her name is Hannah and she is my arch nemesis and my loyal sidekick. We were born in the same hospital, in the same room, with the same nurse, 15 months apart to the day. We share none of the same features and yet, we look strikingly similar. She makes me want to pull my hair out when she steals my clothes, but only because she looks better in them than I do. She makes me want to self-immolate when she tells my mom information I explicitly told her not to, but I know she does it because she cares. I considered running away on multiple occasions when we shared a room 10 years, but I wouldn’t trade our famous sing-a-thons for anything.
Unfortunately for my parents, the estrogen doesn’t stop there. There’s another one of us, five years older and all the wiser. Her name is Grace and she is everything I aspire to be and more. She is, far and away, the most beautiful of us. She looks like a cartoon princess and acts like it, too. She carries herself with poise and elegance and turns heads when she walks into a room. On top of that, she is smart. She’s in law school right now to be a child advocacy lawyer, which is only a testament to her greatness. When we were growing up, though, we weren’t close. My most poignant memory of our childhood relationship is when she told me that hiccups would kill you and scarred me for the rest of my life. But that five-year age gap made it hard to connect because when she was entering high school and kissing boys and wearing makeup, I was barely wearing a training bra and thought root beer LipSmackers constituted as makeup (both of those ideas are still true, by the way).
Growing up, there were screaming matches, slamming doors, and rampant hormones in our house. I don’t know how any of us made it out alive. We have scars, alright, from the number of times we dug our nails into each other’s arms or scratched each other as we fought over some CD or piece of clothing or the car keys, but the corny, time-old truth is that those scars are only reminders of how far we’ve come. See, today, those two are my absolute best friends. They’re brutally honest when I need it most and compassionate when I need it even more. We’re all in our twenties now, and our sisterhood has changed more than we ever could have hoped or known. We all grew up and stopped being teenage girls and learned how to handle our hormones (for the most part) so that we aren't clinically psychotic. We actually want to spend time together and talk to each other, whether it’s making plans for a weekend in Vegas or spending New Year's together. I never imagined us moving past the earth-shattering fights we used to have, but today, we barely even bicker when we see each other, which is far less often than I would like.
If you have a sister, you know what it’s like. You truly cannot live with them or without them. They teach you everything you wanted and needed to know, and all that you never wanted or needed to know. My sisters, more than anything, taught me how to be me. They played an integral role in raising me to be who I am today. They taught me how to stand up for myself to both girls and guys alike and how to dress appropriately for my body type. They taught me everything I ever needed to know about boys. They taught me how to curl my hair and make the perfect cocktail. They taught me how to say no and be my own person and not take nonsense from anyone. They inspire me every day, whether they know it or not.
I don’t know if they’ll read this, because usually when I send them anything I write, they respond with something sweet such as, “I’m not going to read that garbage” or “What do you want now?” But if they do, I hope they know how much I love them. Because it's true; I love them a whole lot. I love you guys even when you tell me that what I'm wearing makes me look fat, or that my skin is "so shiny it's blinding," or when you call me a beached whale or a raging bull, or tell Mom I have a boyfriend when I do not, or throw away my Reading Rainbow computer game, or burn my forehead with a curling iron, or steal my favorite clothes and make holes in them, or read my diaries, or take all my clothes off the hangers and throw them on the closet floor, or scratch the car and blame it on me, or tattle on me about whatever grievance I committed against you.
I know I wasn't the easiest little sister to have, and you guys have spent the last twenty-one years being patient, tolerant, and compassionate. I was catty and temperamental and incorrigible on countless occasions, and every time, you welcomed me back with open arms. I thank my lucky stars that I got stuck with you two ahead of me. You're both incredibly successful and it's intimidating beyond belief, but really, all you've done is inspire me to be my best self using all the tools you've given me. For that, I am grateful. You guys, I am grateful.
But fair warning, Hannah--I haven't completely ruled out the idea of becoming a police officer and arresting you. That still stands.