LaDreena | The Better Half

An only child: LaDreena

I feel like I didn’t really know Andy until she turned 18. It was like magic! There was this girl, who liked all the things I liked, had my same sense of humor, and genuinely understood my struggles. She gave advice, and comforted me when I cried; she celebrated my accomplishments and we talked throughout the day, every day. Where was this girl my whole life?!

Well…she was young, and not present.

I had my parents to myself for a whole seven years until Andy was born. I had cousins who were close in age to me, so I don’t remember feeling like I missed out on not having a sibling. I had my own room and my own toys and plenty of playmates. I think I was excited about being a big sister, but once she was actually born, our age gap meant there wasn’t much we could actually do together.

I don’t think it was intentional, but as we grew up, I never really mentioned her unless someone specifically asked if I had any siblings. When I would say I had a sister, they always seemed surprised. Everyone just assumed I was an only child.

I left for college in DC at 17, and Andy had just turned 11. I was becoming a young adult before she was even a teenager, and for the next seven years after that, I was in school. After graduation, I moved back to CA, in part, because I felt like I had missed out on her growing up; but I settled in the South Bay Area, which was too far away for regular visits.  I was at least close enough to come home on weekends if I wanted, and I was also around for holidays and birthdays. I think during this time is when I realized Andy and I didn’t really get along, or maybe it was just that we honestly didn’t know each other.

I remember I went through this crazy time with my hair( more on this later) when I came back to the Bay, and because I didn’t really know how to take care of it, I would flat iron it all the time. I think we were at my grandma’s house and I mentioned something to Andy about a style she could try with her hair. I don’t recall the details, but I do vividly remember her saying “…and you spend all this time flat ironing your hair just so it can look like that!” I remember my aunt telling her, “Hey! That’s enough!” probably because she could see how shocked and embarrassed I was. I suppose my hair was a mess, but damn! She hurt my feelings. I guess I knew then that I cared about what she thought; I was, after all, her big sister. I think this was one of the first times it actually clicked, and I realized she was watching me, even if it was just close enough to diss my hair in front of family.

I say when she turned 18 we were instantly bonded, but I’m not sure exactly when that was. Maybe because that was the year I made her Autie Andy? In any case, we don’t ever say things to intentionally hurt one another anymore. We’ve had maybe two or three “fights” in the last 10 years and even then, I’ll go without speaking tp her before I say something mean out of anger. I am so grateful for our friendship and I wonder now how I went so long not really knowing her. Today, we think people who don’t get along with their siblings are weird… funny to think that could’ve been us.

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