I have always marveled at my sister.
Laura's fearlessness cast a shadow I was desperate to be in. I was 2.5 years older, but I used to beg her to play with me. One year my mom gave her a slushy maker, and Laura would sit imperiously, doling out frozen juice on a spoon like cocaine to the drooling twins. (As memory serves, Matthew always made out better in the bargain, but he was a more desirable compatriot—no one wants to hitch their wagon to the Earl of Tattletales.) She was stronger than me, too. She used to shove me into one corner of the sofa with her feet and kick me until I cried. In her defense, I was too dumb to just get off the couch and I cry easy.
When Laura was little she was just so. damned. cute. She carried around odd assortments of items until my mother resorted to calling her The Bag Lady. She worshiped her grandfather. She hated taking medicine, so much so that she had her pills crushed up into a plate of bananas mashed with peanut butter (my mother found the plate, exactly as she'd prepared it, in the basement weeks later). She had a hair cut she hated that made old men call her "Sonny" until she was 8 years old. She used to sleep so hard that she'd wake, red-faced and sweating, and have fun conversations like:
Mom: Laura, are you awake?
Mom: Laura. Are you awake?
Laura, with extreme frustration: Hmyes. Goway.
Mom: Are you sure? What's your name?
Laura, furiously: YELLOW.
She was sassy, as evidenced by the time when, at age 5, she looked at her brother witheringly and proclaimed, "Matthew. Those socks don't motely match your outfit." To this day, this is her least favorite family story.
Laura knew what to wear and how to talk to boys when I was stumbling through middle school in white sweatpants and meeting male conversation with wild blushing and terrified screeching. When we were 9 and 11, we invented our own language. When we were 14 and 16, we babysat the neighbors' kids together and raided their refrigerator and stayed up late with their mom debating the Bible. And when we were 17 and 19, we just about stopped speaking to each other entirely.
But then something changed. She got wiser, I just got older. I developed an affinity for crisis, and I somehow found her on my doorstep every time. She picked up my pieces, and she refused delivery of my bullshit, and she taught me to Fake It Till You Make It. She got a better hair cut and she married a wonderful man, and he gave her a family.
And now we're 27 and (holy shit) almost 30 and she's one of my very best friends. She's brilliant and charming and quick, proof that so. damned. cute. has no expiration date for some people.
She's still fearless and still sassy and we still stop speaking entirely on occasion. I am eternally grateful for my sister. And I still marvel at her.
Because she's marvelous.
Happy Birthday, Laura. I promise I'll get you a real present before your next birthday.