My built-in-best-friend

My little sister is home for the summer and things have sure brightened up around here.

I mean just look at her. Look at those dimples. Look at that smile. Look at those kissable cheeks…

..doesn’t she just literally scream, “aw well, shit happens, life goes on…let’s go have a beer.”

Awwww. So cute.  I love my little sister and having her around here for a few months is like having a built-in-best-friend who I can call at anytime to come and hang out, help me move heavy stuff, join us for a BBQ, or a quick trip to the lake and not have to worry about judgement when she shows up and there is a cat sitting on my kitchen table (how did that get there?) or when we finally make it to the lake with the boat and, you know, starts smoking and quits working while we watch from the shore in our swimming suits as husband floats away. 

No big deal, says little sister.

Shit happens.

And then she makes sure to record her big sister in a heroic moment of plunging into the bone chilling early June lake water to pull her man back to shore (and when I say bone chilling, I mean so cold I couldn’t breathe for a good ten minutes. So cold I think my skin shrunk. So cold I think my voice changed permanently. So cold the damages are irreparable). Anyway, yes, little sister made sure to snap a few photos and laugh her pretty little head off as the warm sun shone on her and her stubby little feet stayed dry.




I think I may have also heard her say something like “It’s times like these I’m glad I’m not married…this is the type of wifely duty I try to avoid.”

Ah, little sister, you might as well get married in that snarky hat. I hate to break it to you, but I think that phrase was coined for the union.

Anyway, I love having her out here, because I love her of course, but also because it reminds me of the old days.

The days when she stood three foot four, had a permanent crusted tear on her cheek, bandaids up and down her arms from picking at mosquito bites and patches on her little overalls.

I die.

Because she reminds me of the days when I was still learning to control my hair along with my temper and a little sister with patches on her jeans who wanted to go everywhere I went.

Including all of my secret spots.

Secret spots that weren’t so secret once I got there, having written and performed my latest Grammy Award winning song at the top of my lungs along the way, only to find that little sister was peeking her head out from behind a big oak tree four feet behind me.

Which prompted me to work on my diva attitude (you need one of those if you’re going to win a Grammy) and scream at her to go home, go away, scram, get out of here, you’re so annoying, quit following me, go play inside, etc….

But little sister has always been smarter than me. She would turn around and walk slowly toward the house, waiting for me to continue my Disney Princess-esque concert to the trees and birds and then quickly spin around and conduct her sneaking ritual, tiptoeing from tree to tree all over again until I broke down and let her stay.

I always broke down and let her stay.

In fact, by the time our childhood came to a close, little sister had secured a contract for me to build her her a matching fort across the creek, complete with an old lawn furniture chair cushion and a tin-can telephone so we could stay in touch.

What what?

Ah hell, little sister has always been savvy like that.

who could say no to this?

Because the thing is, little sister is my little sister by five years and my big sister’s little sister by eleven. That’s a lot of time between siblings. And out here where her nearest friend lived a mile and a half up hill on a gravel road, you can’t blame the little tyke for seeking company in her weird, (cool?) big sister. I mean, she had strong little legs, but that was quite the trek on her tricycle.

And at the end of the day, I was always glad she wanted a friend in me–always glad she hung on even when I left her to fend for herself after our bottle calf, Pooper, escaped from his pen, and thinking little sister was his mother, proceeded to head butt, push, lick and and chase the three foot five, band-aid clad, curly headed girl down the gravel road to our house as her hero and protector sprinted as fast as her eleven-year old legs could take her to the safety of the house.

Yup, that's us with Pooper...

But little sister could always hold her own, which came in handy when she had to deflect the lies I told her about how elves live under the big mushrooms that grow out of cow poop and she really should spend the rest of the afternoon flipping them over and trying to catch a few. Little sister’s wit and limited patience for tasks without rewards saved her on that one and I got my big sister butt chewed when, after about three mushroom overturns, she discovered more bugs than elves.

Yes, I could never pull one over on her or convince her to do anything she didn’t want to do, because what she wanted for the longest time was to hang out with me. And then the sun continued rising and setting and pretty soon we did what all little girls do eventually…we grew up.

And those years between us got in the way. Suddenly tagging along was no longer an option as I moved to town school, got a car and then a boyfriend, who, now come to think of it, would come out to the ranch to visit me and spend the entire afternoon teaching little sister to play chess…

Ahhh, there she went again…

Anyway, that’s the thing I’ve always admired about little sister–she has always known exactly who she is and what she wants. The same way she wooed me into building her a fort, and charmed my boyfriend (who became my husband and one of her best friends) into playing chess with her, to working her ass off for straight As in college while taking time to stand in the crowd to listen to her favorite band, she has always took her life and made the most of it…

smiling the whole way.

So now as she finishes up college and moves on into the real world, I am finding that those years that floated between us, pushing us together when we were both young girls and pulling us apart through adolescence and early adulthood, they just don’t matter anymore.

That little sister who followed me through the trees, listened on the other side of the hall night after night as I practiced my guitar, fought with me until her face turned red, rode with me in my 1983 Ford LTD as I learned to drive in the big town, who shares the same issues with her frizzy, always growing hair and always tells it to me straight, has always been my built-in-best friend.

And now I am beginning to understand what that little dimpled faced girl felt like as she was watching me grow up and wander away from her.  With the world at her feet and a beauty and good-humored personality that just blossoms a bit more every day, I want nothing more than to stand in her shadow, to follow her from tree to tree, to sit next to her at the table, to kick over any mushrooms she asks me to and, you know, plop down my lawn furniture in my fort across the creek and convince her, from the other end of our tin-can telephone, to never leave me.

For more sister sentiment, listen to the song I wrote about her here:  Alex

11 thoughts on “My built-in-best-friend

  1. This is a beautiful post. I’m a baby sister, youngest of four. While I love my brothers, there’s nothing quite like the adoration that I feel for my older sister. Even though we’ve grown closer and further apart over and over throughout the years, I know she’s always there when I need her. And she always will be. I can go to her about anything.

    You summed up sisterhood fantastically. I got goosebumps. Thank you for sharing!

  2. “If you ask me, Alex would have never grown.” So how I feel about my sweet little sister, littler by 17 months. I wanted her to stay “mine”, pure and sweet and adoring me. It’s funny how the tables turn, and it’s us older sisters who begin to adore them instead. 🙂 Thanks for a sweet post and a beautiful song. It would be so much fun to see you sing!

  3. Dang you, Jessie! Waving your magic wand of words making me laugh and cry…and your passionate and pretty singing making me ache for my sister and cry some more…hate you. Love Your Fan, Floridakotan

  4. Thanks..I’m leaving for North Carolina to see my little sister next wed. along w/ my folks and oldest child. Before we moved off the farm, my sister about twoish would drag her blanky through the barn(my dad was a dairy farmer in which I named some of the cows). That blanky had been through allot. Uff’da. She is also five years younger than I. She is very smart, not married yet either. We will venture north to Va. Beach to see my oldest sibling, my big brother( five yrs older than me) who was the typical older sibling who pulled some mean pranks. He continues to get stronger from being temp. paralyzed due to encephalitis. I don’t see my sis very often and this will be the longest I’ll spend w/ her in a long time. We have our differences in opinions but after all, she is my sis and I love her. 🙂

  5. You are a lucky woman. I begged for a sister, but, after two rowdy boys, my parents said “no” to more kids. You have 2 sisters, lucky you, lucky them.

  6. Pingback: To be alive… « Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

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