I love having a brother. Older brothers can be a bit of a stereotype in TV and movies – they’re always overprotective, always a bit macho, and they say things like “You better not hurt her” to the incumbent boyfriend or husband. In truth, my relationship with my older brother is closer to what I have with my parents – absolute, unconditional trust that he will always have my back and that I can always, always count on him.
We do, however, have six years between us. I’m a girl and he’s a boy. We never studied in the same school, and I spent all my teenage years by myself after he left for university in another country. All that put together, and I think it kind of makes sense that we never really became “friends”. We love each other, and we’ve been able to warm up to each other much, much more in recent years (the age gap becomes less and less divisive the older you get), but we’re still way too different to really be friends. If we weren’t related, I don’t know if we would make much of an effort to get to know each other. Because of that, I spent a lot of my teen years daydreaming about having a sister. Younger, older, it didn’t matter, I just wanted someone to talk to (my brother’s never been the chatty sort), to relate to, to get advice from (or to give it, even), to do girly things with.
I didn’t expect to get one at 18. (In retrospect, I should have expected it, but teenage girls don’t really think about their shy, introverted brothers getting married.) When I first met my (now) sister-in-law, some 12 years ago now, I was immediately envious of her cool, chic haircut and her elegant style. I don’t remember all the details of those first few months, but I remember that she was warm, funny, introduced me to blogging, took me ice-skating, let me ramble and generally did all the things a good sister should do. I approved of her, of course, and let my brother know as much. She was a keeper.
Fast-forward a decade, and my relationship with her has only blossomed. People are sometimes surprised that we have such a solid bond, and I don’t know whether I should be offended (why is it a surprise that two non-related female family members get along well?) or agree with them about it being a bit of a minor miracle. Not in a “women can’t stand each other unless they’re related” way, but in a “how are we good friends when we don’t even have that much in common?” way. Because, honestly, if I really think about it, we’re very different people. We like the same broad things – books, music, writing, movies – but our tastes are polar opposites. Our personalities are not that similar, and our lifestyles are definitely on the extreme opposite ends of the spectrum (and not just because she’s a married woman and I’m single and
ready to mingle fine as I am, thanks).
Still, we’ve managed to make it work. I say jokingly that we’ve spoken more in a decade than my brother and I have in three, but I think, more and more, that’s actually pretty accurate, especially if you include our ridiculous Whatsapp history. We’ve managed to bond over the most random things (book clubs, nail art, TV, online shopping) and found similarities in our love for the beach, picnics, Scrabble games, funny memes and new recipes (she makes, I eat). We’ve talked crap, we’ve talked philosophy. We’ve talked boy problems, work problems, people problems. We’ve laughed over badly-written matrimonial ads and made many, many (so many) terrible puns.
We’re friends, but like any good sibling, she’s also been an incredible source of inspiration. She’s dedicated, driven, organised and disciplined, qualities I’m always striving for in my own life. When we write our new year resolutions, I always wonder what she could possibly need to work on. She fires on all cylinders, she’s living proof that it can be done. At any point in time, she’s juggling a dozen balls, and doing it in a fabulous dress and kickass heels. She’s the complete package. In addition, she’s one half of the source of the smartest, funniest, most adorable little warrior princess I’ve ever met, the strongest glue any relationship could need.
She’s a wonderful sister-in-law, but more than that, she’s the sister I always wanted. I couldn’t have asked for better.
Happy birthday, BBG! 🙂