Family is tricky.
Thinking about my family tends to reminds me of a line from As Good As it Gets.
“Some of us have great stories, pretty stories that take place at lakes with boats and friends and noodle salad. Just no one in this car.”
My sister walked down our driveway and out of my life for the first time when I was 6. Ten years my senior she was my idol and I was bereft at her departure. She had her reasons, none of them to do with me and as I say, family is tricky.
She had her first daughter four years later and returned to our lives having made a fragile short lived peace with my mother, disappearing again within a year or so.
I was at boarding school by then, making the new departure less noticeable and by the time she was pregnant with her second daughter she had returned, working in the family business, her presence sheer delight to me when I was home from school.
My sister was opinionated, argumentative and hilarious. Even now I expect if we were to speak she would have me doubled over in minutes. She smoked a lot and she drank a lot of Diet Coke and loved all the stuff my mother hated. Country music, Melrose place, Eddie Murphy. N.B. It was the nineties.
She would be candid with me in a way my mother never was, in hindsight I was too young to cope with her truths. When I was 10 I sat on the edge of the bathtub whilst she detailed every family scandal, embarrassment and wrong doing. From then on this is how I viewed us all.
When I was 15 she was gone again. A huge and now sixteen year rift with my mother had formed that could not be joined. I think my mother was so devastated she couldn’t even bring herself to tell me that she was gone again. I came home and there was no Diet Coke in the fridge and I knew.
Three more years passed until I tracked her down. This time we stayed in touch. She was my best friend. We were so angry together. We chain smoked watching Clueless and Grease and Reality Bites and Dirty Dancing over and over while her daughters were asleep.
When I was nearly 20 I left for England. We stayed in touch for a while but by the time I moved to America we hadn’t spoken in over a year. Then cancer came for my stepdad and the marriage I’d rushed into was collapsing and I needed her.
I returned to Australia and between time spent with my stepdad I managed to find her. She was a little different than I remembered. Still so angry. Not interested in the reconciliation with our family that I had hoped for. Memories of times she had been cruel and harmful when I was little began to resurface. My soon to be ex-husband was uncomfortable around her. Maybe I was too.
I went back to America. My stepdad died. My marriage ended. I left message after hysterical message for her but she never called back. Eventually I gave up. But I miss her. I can’t forgive her but I miss her. Even now almost seven years later.
Family is tricky.