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My sister was on spring break this week and in New York for a couple of days to hang out with her older brother and get a glimpse of my decadent, rococo-esque blogger’s lifestyle. We ate out, got fancy green tea, saw a show at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade theater (the best thing in New York for $5) and generally lived the dream, but that’s not why it was a good couple days.
There is an understanding between siblings that runs deep, connected by a shared history that only siblings relatively close in age can understand. It’s as simple as this: you are both the product of a singular environment populated by the escaped inmates of a minimum-security sanatorium (“parents”). No one else gets it because no one else lived through it.
Whether it’s painful or carefree or hilarious, you speak the same language and were witnesses to the same family vacations, fights, and holidays. I feel sorry for people without siblings. They didn’t have to share toys, but they don’t have someone else to affirm (or inform) their earliest experiences and that strikes me as terribly lonely.
The recession is bringing a lot of pain for a lot of people and I’m generally scornful of the facile Now We Can Focus On What’s Really Important human-interest coverage in the media, but I wouldn’t have had time to hang out with my kid sister if I had been chained to my desk in midtown. Moving away from home meant suspending our relationship at a dynamic moment – she was entering high school as I was beginning college – and I’m grateful for the chance to get to know this strange and substantially taller adult on her own terms.
What does the Buddha say about little sisters? I have no idea. But he would probably point out they’re an excellent opportunity to work with frustration and love all at once. After all, no one can push your buttons like a younger sibling.