When I was around seven years old my teenage sister and her best friend allowed me to join in on their personal photo shoot. Not one to miss an opportunity, I bolted to my room and whipped on my favorite paisley dress that my grandmother had sewn for me.
As cars sped down the main road where we lived, unaware of this important mission, my idols at the time took turns posing on a grassy hill in the park by our house. With crossed arms, serious stares and Cher hair that had been ironed straight, they struck a barefoot pose, snapping angled pictures of each other the way they imagined real photographers would stage their models.
When it was my turn I was directed to keep a serious expression, turn to the side, clasp my hands behind my back, and cross one foot over the other. I would have done somersaults if they had said so – anything to stay in the company of the big girls.
I still have a Polaroid from my photo shoot, reminding me that even though we're nine years apart, the smallest of ties can still bind us.
We’ve come a long way since the days of my sister bossing me around and my telling mom when she went over her time limit on the phone. Like most siblings, we can both recall some sweet memories of our childhood together even with the nine-year age difference. There are also a few less savory ones, like the time I bit her on her stomach. Hey, she was gripping my shoulders and shaking me for some alleged infraction and she was wearing a halter top. It was sanctioned.
We were also occasional accidental comrades growing up. Both of us had long since left the nest when we came clean about the living room cartwheels that resulted in the Panasonic nameplate dangling precariously on the front of the family stereo. It wasn’t my cartwheel but I knew I wouldn’t be cleared of all charges, since I only witnessed this infraction by sitting at the top of the steps way past my bedtime, watching my sister and her friends goofing around.
You would think everyone could have a good laugh about it all these years later, right? A few years ago my sister and I reminisced about that incident, giggling head to head… that is, until our mom’s steely gaze hit us. The Panasonic stereo may have been ancient history but apparently the demise of its sturdy nameplate remained clear in her mind.
Last week I hopped a plane to Kansas to visit the city where my sister, her husband and my mom moved to last summer. My cousin who is very close to my age joined us from North Carolina for some fun family time. It went by much too quickly but we fit a lot into those few days.
My sibling is a vegan and she did the majority of the cooking for our dinners. This may sound like a challenge when carnivores come to call, but she did a great job of filling our tummies while making adjustments for her own palate. When we had chicken she had… not chicken. It has a more technical name but that’s what I’m going with for now.
We spent our time chomping on the best barbecue, driving by historic sites and strolling through a shopping center with colorful rooftops and an abundance of unusual water fountains. A photo of the four of us girls with windblown hair and carefree smiles by the Kansas City World War I Memorial holds my favorite memory of our visit.
That day long ago when my sister let me be a part of the picture, she brought us a little closer when our age difference was still a big deal. These days we have more in common and we approach some things in a similar manner. For instance, I believe if we had to do it all over again, we’d both agree to keep the cartwheel story to ourselves.