I have an incredibly talented sister. So talented, in fact, that she was recently Freshly Pressed (we were Freshly Pressed on back to back days, which basically means that we’re destined to dominate the interweb world).
Claire is an amazing writer. She has her own blog full of great creative works of both poetry and prose. It’s called Seamlessly Small. You should go check it out. Right now.
Being that we grew up together and shared one or two experiences, we thought it would be a good idea to trade posts. Below, you will see a piece written by my lovely sister, Claire. And if you go to her blog, you will see a post written by your’s truly. We both wrote about a the same memory, bringing you the experience from our varying viewpoints.
I don’t want to dilly-dally too much, so I’ll shut up and bring you the guest post from my lovely sister, Claire.
The Downstairs Powder Room Debacle
It is one of life’s great enigmas, the way sibling bonds metamorphose over a period of years. In some unfortunate cases, the relationship deteriorates to the barest threads. The only time conversation exists is through necessity, an annual family gathering, a chance encounter in the street. In some cases the relationship becomes stronger and wonderfully binding, the threads intertwined in a permanent, interlocking braid.
To say that my brother, Andrew, and I were distant as children would be the understatement of the century. Though only two years his senior, it was as though we were worlds apart. It was not a sibling rivalry exactly, but a difference in temperament. I could be unreasonably cruel at times, striking him for no apparent reason, calling him juvenile names. He always took it in stride, calm and complacent.
This attitude juxtaposed enormously with my fiery temper. How he, and my parents, dealt with my frequent tantrums I have no idea. They were saintly in their tolerance. After every unnecessary punch, every unpleasant remark, my mother always made it a point to tell me that one day my brother was going to outgrow me, one day he would become tall and strong, and then what was I to do? I disregarded these warnings until he reached his teenage years and, exactly as my mother predicted, towered at least three inches over me.
It was at this point that the merciless teasing came to an abrupt halt. It was also at this point that, miraculously, my brother and I began to notice that we had common ground, a mutuality that we were unable to recognize as children. There were, however, a number of noteworthy exceptions to this detachment, odd and often comedic circumstances that threw us together in such a way that common ground existed between us, if only for a moment. One such instance was the downstairs powder room debacle.
There we were, writhing in our Catholic school uniforms in the back of my mother’s Subaru, nine and seven years old. I crossed my bare legs at the ankles, pulling my plaid skirt down over my knees, whimpering at the dull pain just below my abdomen. Out of my peripheral vision I saw Andrew assuming a similar position, his eyes narrowed in concentration, attempting to will the discomfort away.
Neither of us said a word, for we both knew what the other was thinking: the downstairs powder room is mine. Keep in mind that there was and always had been another bathroom in our house on the second floor. However, for whatever reason both of us tended to disregard its existence in circumstances like these, when every step felt like a mile. It was one of many trivial arguments we engaged in on a daily basis.
My mother barely had the vehicle in park when I jumped out of the car. I sprinted towards the front door, Andrew inches behind me. Though neither of us had a key to the house we insisted on yanking the knob, as though the ineffectual force would magically open the door. In a moment our mother was behind us. I could tell by her exasperated sigh, a sound which became as familiar to me as my own breathing. Somehow she managed to separate us long enough to jam her key in the lock and push the door open, and the race was on again.
Though the details are a bit hazy, I am positive that, at one point, I attempted to shove Andrew down the short flight of steps that led to our kitchen. A multitude of blows and angered exclamations later and there I was, the downstairs powder room. My triumph was short-lived, however, for I could feel Andrew’s arms wrap around my waist in an iron grip.
“Get off!” I cried, spreading my arms in the doorway and attempting to push him backwards with my behind. Though at the time he was quite smaller than me he continued to pull, hauling me backwards with all of his weight.
“Seriously stop it! Let go of me!” I screamed. About to lose my grip on the door, I grabbed the only anchor in sight: the small, white sink, connected to the wall by a single, aged pipe. I smirked, knowing that victory was mere moments away. However, perhaps channeling his inner-teenage strength, Andrew gave me one last, forceful tug, and as he yanked me back by my shirt I could feel the sink give under my fingers. As we began to fall backwards I could hear the horrid cracking of the pipe, the squealing of bending metal. Water rocketed out of the severed end in the floor, covering both Andrew and I in wet, rust colored flakes.
There we were, the two of us tangled on the floor, watching as water began to pool on the brown tiles. We looked at each other, then back at the sink which now lay decapitated on top of the toilet lid. It was not the exasperated sigh that signaled my mother’s presence this time. She did not have to make a sound. You could feel the anger seeping through her pores. We looked up at her from the floor, unable to decide whether to explain or run. She looked down at us and cocked her lip, a facial expression so terrifying it could intimidate armies.
“You two are paying for that” she said, her voice severe. As she walked away we looked at the sink again, both of us wondering how a nine and seven-year old were going to acquire the necessary funds in order to repair the damage. Birthday money was out of the question, and last year’s lemonade stand profits definitely would not cut it. After a moment we looked at each other, our faces reflecting both shock and chagrin.
Then, all of a sudden, we began to laugh. We laughed at the stupidity of it, the absolute ridiculousness of it. It was one of the first moments we found that common ground, a mutuality through our vandalism. Though it took a number of years to create the connection between us, it is now a permanent fixture in our lives. We laugh together and we cry together. We share a passion for music, for writing, for life. We are the braided threads. We are the siblings that, no matter what misfortunes may arise, whether it is the destruction of a sink or otherwise, will always be partners in our irresponsible, outrageous, and fantastic mischief, and for that I am eternally grateful.
Yes, that actually happened. We ripped a sink right out of the wall. We had some good tomes, Claire and I.
Don’t forget to check out Claire’s blog, Seamlessly Small. She has some really awesome stuff that’s definitely worth a read.
I hope you enjoyed this little bit of sibling storytelling. I know I did.
Have a splendid weekend. Try to keep your bathroom sinks intact.