But now when we quote it, there’s all this...sincerity lurking behind the irony. Cathy and I fought ruthlessly when we were kids. My My Little Ponies would get all Mean Girls on hers. I smacked her around (lightly!). She knew it wasn’t cool to tattle, so she’d wait until our mom was in the room and say to me, “I can’t believe you hit me that one time earlier today!”
Sometime during my senior year of high school, though, we started really liking each other. Christian Bale and Newsies played an important part in our bonding, but it continued when I went away to UCLA the next year. When I came home for the weekend, she and I would stay up late talking about our post-Christian crushes, hers on her co-bandleader, mine on my gay (male) R.A. Both were unrequited.
When our mom got sick, we agreed to shelter our parents from our own petty problems and unload them only on each other. I’d forgotten about this pact, but she just reminded me that it was during this era that I came out to her before coming out to our parents. We had an unspoken no-judgment policy—we could unload and unload; we could listen and then blatantly say, “Okay, now back to me.”
As the big sister, of course I was the one who broke that policy, at one point telling her that she didn’t visit our parents enough. But lately we’ve been doing a lot of “now back to me”—though usually we alternate tearful phone calls—with, I’m pleased to say, very little judgment. Just tonight I told her how much I need her, how grateful I am that I can fall apart in front of her so fully, even more than I can with AK, who lives with me and needs a certain amount of strength from me. Cathy said, “It’s nice to feel needed, since lately I’ve been feeling like I suck.”
It could be a greeting card: God made us sisters, but we made each other feel like we don’t totally suck.