Monday, October 27, 2014

leaving sisters

requisite Charlie's Angels pose, taken weeks before I moved to LA

When we were young, my sisters and I all slept in the same bedroom. Eventually, Lori left for college, which meant that I moved from the mattress on the floor to the big full-sized bed with Andi. Two years later, she left, too. I had the bed to myself. I set my own picture frames on the dresser we used to share and spread my clothes out in the closet.

During those years when we all lived together with my parents, that one bedroom was our shared private space, we laughed and fought and co-existed. Lori lost it when Andi and I teased her about liking a boy named Carl Long, whose name we found on the covers of her text books or in notes we found of hers. Andi begged Lori to wear some of her clothes, which always escalated to screaming fights in the early morning before they walked to the bus stop - Lori insisting that she didn't want people to see them wear the same thing, and Andi being stubborn and manipulative (as we all were at times). When the screaming started between them, I hid in my parents' room and willed them to like each other again. For me, Sunday afternoons were some of the best times to pick fights, because I had my church shoes on. The hard, pointy tips could bruise shins with one strong kick.

Our story is the same as many others. When Lori left for college, she somehow morphed from distant older sister to insightful mentor. I still have a note she wrote to me at the beginning of my sophomore year with advice about guys. Andi chose the same school as Lori, where their friendship grew, and where I visited on Friday nights and met their friends, slept in their dorm rooms and ate with them in their food court. By the time I was in college, we all made efforts to visit each other, to email and call. We talked about God, about our parents, about boys. Andi started dating the man who is her husband now. Lori moved to Virginia, then back. We became adults, and friends.

I loved being close to my sisters. For a few years during and after college, I lived in the same town as Lori, and then even went to the same church and shared friends. Then, I decided to move to Los Angeles for two years, a decision I assumed would be reversible at the end of that time if I didn't like it. I didn't know then that two years and a move across the country are things you can never reverse.

And here I am, ten years later and still living three thousand miles away from them. They've moved, too, which means that I see them once a year, twice if I'm lucky. The last time the three of us were all together was nearly two years ago now.

Tonight Andi texted me about the new Taylor Swift album. I told her I'd burn it and send it to her if she wanted. "Yes please!" She texted back. And just the thought of showing her my love by sending a CD felt so precious and at the same time not nearly enough. I don't know if she knows, if Lori knows, that I would do anything I could for them. I love them more than anyone else I know, to be honest. And so texts like that one make living this far seem ridiculous. I don't want to burn her a cd, I want to sit down on the couch with her while the cd is playing, or make dinner to it, or drive to it, or dance with her kids to it. For the thousandth time this month, as every month, I asked myself, "Why am I living here? Why don't I move closer?"

And that same verse that I've heard and read and recited these ten years came to mind, unsummoned but stuck in my heart: Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold in this time...

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