Little Star


Sarah is 30 today! Pretty big deal. I used to think 21 was the end of it all, but 21 is just the end of your upward, exciting, you-have-your-whole-life-ahead-of-you part of life. After that it’s any birthday ending in a zero to say, listen, this is how old you are, let’s talk about where you are in your life. (Maybe I say that because I’m not 30 yet. We’ll see.) Sarah seems excited about it enough. She even mentioned it on Christmas. “Are you coming home for my birthday??” Um, well, I wish I could, but no, definitely can’t. What are you doing? “I don’t know. The twins, Jeff, and Brooke are planning it and it will be awesome. I mean, we could have it in California, who knows?!” Yes! That would be awesome! Of course I know that’s not the case. I’m sure they’ll have a great time and I’m sad I can’t be there for it. Courtney did send me an invitation in the mail. But I can’t reveal those plans because they haven’t happened yet!

This is Sarah’s first real big birthday since 21. I can’t remember if I was there for it…at Rutgers perhaps, but either way, she would have obviously went to the bar and I would not been able to tag along. It’s crazy how close in age we are. I feel like she’s three years older. Not because she acts it or anything, just because she was and will always be my big sister. Everyone in her grade was separated from me by more than just our one year difference. I was Sarah’s little sister. I don’t even know what that means, but I was. The people in her grade were never a grade above me. They were just in Sarah’s grade, which made them infinitely older than me. We most definitely did not share friends. It was an unspoken known fact. I think the only time we ever fought over a friend was Michele. The only explanation for this is that Michele started in Sarah’s grade and her Mom held her back at some point in elementary school – 3rd or 4th grade maybe? I don’t know, but we definitely fought over Michele. (I won. Just kidding!!! But Shelby is still one of my best friends.) In high school the only friends of Sarah’s I felt like I could talk to were those on the field hockey team. But they were never my friends. She had a lot of friends who were really nice to me, but in a, “I’m friends with your older sister” kind of way. Her one best friend who still is, is Brooke. I always liked Brooke, but it wasn’t until recent years, as adults, that I really got to know who she is as a person. We are very similar. It’s funny because Brooke and I are so similar that it’s weird that Sarah and her are best friends. But it’s not, at the same time. Sarah is in some ways like LMonny. Not really, but there are some things that are similar and we are obviously attracted to people who are different from us. And who are like us but can love them without wanting to strangle them.

Of everyone of my siblings, Sarah is probably the most different from me. She’s patient, kind, artistic, and wise. Among other things, but those stand out. I know I’ve talked about this before, but too bad. This is my Sarah blog. I even want to still keep some to myself so I can save it for my Maid of Honor speech. Yes, God dammit, I better be your maid of honor. We’ve actually had fights about this. Sarah claims that at one point, during high school, I said I wanted LMonny to be my Maid of Honor. God knows I probably did, but I didn’t mean it. After that, she kept saying it, and saying how she’d be relieved of the responsibility and blah blah blah. No.

Trading candy during Stephen's baseball practiceSpring 1989
Trading candy during Stephen’s baseball practice
Spring 1989

Not that I’m getting married soon (Manfres who are reading this) and not that Sarah is either. We always say how Sarah is the hippie in the family. She doesn’t care about having a lot of money or getting married and she’s going to walk around barefoot the rest of her life with Jeff. That might be an exaggeration, but it’s been said.

Sarah and I shared a room until I was in high school. I’d like to say it was when Stephen went to college but he kind of moved out before then. I didn’t really understand what was happening at the time, so I never felt like he actually moved out. But I guess he did. I took his room. I swear I complained about sharing a room soooo much. We had fights about it. Sarah needed complete darkness; I was afraid of the dark. Sarah wanted to listen to music; I wanted silence. Unless she was telling me a story. She told the best stories. I was always amazed how she could come up with them. She’d be laying in her bed, by the window, and I’d be laying in my bed, by the door (sometimes we were on different sides of the room), and she’d tell me this whole, long, detailed, interesting story. Then she’d ask me to tell one. Ummm. I’d either talk about a movie I’d already seen or I’d say I have no idea. You’re better at this than me. There were many a night that I’d lay awake, whispering. Sarah. Are you awake??? Usually it was no answer, and I felt so alone in the world. It’s sad that I could feel this at such a young age.

My absolute favorite thing at this age; and that Sarah and I actually agreed on, were these cassette tapes to listen to as we fell asleep. Sarah always wanted to listen to music, but I would sing along in my head and not be able to fall asleep. I hated it. But Grandma got us these tapes of stories. (Obviously Christian stories. She and Pop-Pop owned a store called the Bible Book Nook.) Whit’s End I believe they were called and I would listen to them every night if I could. It was crazy good. Still couldn’t fall asleep listening to them, because I wanted to hear the whole story, but I loved them. When they ended, and the tape would finally click in the tape player, I’d sit up and look out the window. I loved the street lights. Sarah insisted on the lights being out but she couldn’t put out the street lights. A random car driving by made me feel better, too. I still don’t know why. Guess I wasn’t alone.

Finally I could have my own room. Stephen’s old room. I was beyond excited. I was probably a senior in high school at this point. Mom let me paint the room any color I wanted. I decided on Kumquat, which was a horribly bright orange color. I know Mom kept asking me, are you sure?? And of course, it was Kumquat or nothing. Having my own room was the scariest thing. I couldn’t close the door at night, no way. Sarah was thrilled with the new situation, which didn’t make me feel better. I hate being alone. Even just having someone asleep in the same room was some kind of comfort.

Venice Beach 2012
Venice Beach 2012

We’re only a year and a half apart but it’s always felt like much more. We played basketball together when we were little, but she didn’t play too far into high school. Field hockey, though, we shared. Ms. Decker intentionally put us on opposite sides of the field so we wouldn’t fight. Not that it stopped us. But it was good that Sarah was always on the right, I on the left. One game, her senior year and my junior year, some asshole enormous bully on the other team (Paulsboro) hit Sarah in the forehead with her stick. Anyone who knows the sport, you can’t lift your stick that high and this girl was such a dirty player. Anyway, Sarah was bleeding everywhere. Apparently, your head bleeds easily. It was awful. Besides not being able to stand the sight of blood, I couldn’t stand that it was my sister’s blood. I think she was more pissed that she couldn’t finish the game. She went riding off with the trainer and was quickly transported to the hospital. On her way out she was determined and pissed off and wanting so bad for us to win. I think she even yelled something to us as she sped off. I’d love to say the tie game at that point ended with us winning. But it didn’t. We lost. Real life is the worst with that kind of stuff. Afterwards, at the hospital, all Sarah cared about was if we had won or not. It crushed me to say we did not. I felt like I let her down.

Sarah was always so freakin’ smart. Everything came easy to her. And I think Stephen, too, which is why I took Honors classes my freshman year in high school (because they both did). The first day in Honors Biology and Honors History I think I wanted to die. (Honors English was the only class that didn’t scare me. Wish I realized what that meant at the time.) Notice how I capitalize Honors. It was so important. I quickly dropped Honors history and stuck with the safe CP (college prep). I stuck it out with Honors Biology and got my first C. I’m sure I got at least a B+ in Honors English. Loved it. But Sarah. She floated through high school like it was nothing. She would have a 10-page essay due and not start it until the night before! Even just that, without knowing what your grade would be, terrified me. How could you wait that long? I would be stressed and worried every single day until it was due. But Sarah, she’d write that paper the day before and get an A on it. I felt like there was something seriously wrong with me. And that my big sister was just so well educated and smart and could do anything she wanted to do.

She was a really good drawer and I couldn’t draw a good stick figure. How are we related?!! It wasn’t fair. I know now that you can’t compare yourself to your siblings, but when you’re that close in age it’s hard not to. I never felt like Sarah was my equal. I always looked up to her. She was so much smarter, so much older. We fought all the time. It wasn’t until she went to college that we got closer. And then even moreso when I went to college. The distance – cheesy as it sounds – made us closer.

I can’t dispense all my information about Sarah because I need to save it for my Maid of Honor speech (What’s that about? like the Best Man has more to say than than the Maid of Honor? Bullshit).

We don’t say it often so I’ll say it now….love you, Sarah!

*Stina Nordenstam (Romeo & Juliet soundtrack)

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