I’m back from my sojourn to the sunflower state, all fat from my sister’s good cooking and relaxed from napping every afternoon.* And not only was the trip recreational, it also provided a valuable lesson in Relational Urban Studies, meaning that any time I feel Storm Lake is too small, secluded, and shopping-less, I just need to buzz down to Peabody, Kansas. I’ve seen graduate student offices larger than their single grocery-and-video store. The beauty salon only has two chairs and one tanning bed! (Midwesterners will understand the social poverty indicated by a single tanning bed.) Also, about half of the streets and sidewalks are red brick, laid down probably 100 years ago. Yet the brick streets aren’t there because they lend an air of authentic charm;** they haven’t been paved over because they don’t need it, dagnab it, they’re perfectly fine the way they are because people KNEW how to lay a brick street in those days.***
During the visit, I was also confronted with several truths of the eldest sibling-youngest sibling relationship. The first was that, no matter how old you are and how many college degrees you collect and how many affirmations of self-worth you say at bedtime, your eldest sister will nonetheless viciously and repeatedly kick your ass at Upwords.
The second realization was that no matter how old and saggy and age-spotty you become,**** to your eldest sibling you will always and forever be 8 years old. On Saturday morning, Linda and I went down to the local farmers’ market for breakfast rolls and veggies. In addition to those things, which Linda paid for, I bought a small plate of sugar cookies. Not two seconds later, Linda glanced at the cookies in my hand and said, "You’ve got your cookies, now I don’t want you whining for me to buy you anything else."
Um, Linda? Yeah, I’m 41 years old. I bought the cookies with my own money from my own little purse, earned at my own little job, and I haven’t whined since I was, oh, 8 years old.******
On the other hand, when I was broke and sad in grad school, did Linda say, "You’re 40 years old, you made the decision to quit your job and go back to school, now suck it up and live on Top Ramen three meals a day" ? She did not. She sent me Halloween and Easter and Christmas cards with funny, supportive little notes and $20 bills in them.
So my big sister? Love her, and she can treat me like a child in public and beat me at Upwords any time.
Which is a healthy attitude for me to have, ’cause it’s going to happen anyway.
*Heck, some days I took two naps with an interval of good eats in between.
**Despite the fact that one Peabody-promoting site insists on spelling the verb "shop" as "shoppe," thus tilting the twee-ometer way into the red.
***Unfortunately, none of them were yellow brick. On the other hand, if I met a host of singing midgets, a talking scarecrow, and a tin man who had cut off his own arms and legs, I’d whip out my cell phone and talk to my doctor about adjusting my medication. And maybe invest in a taser.
****Not that I’m any of these things. I’m young and firm and vibrant, damn it! See how well those self-affirmations work?*****
*****"It’s not an age spot, it’s a freckle. It’s not an age spot, it’s a freckle…."
******And just to prove my maturity, I’m going to eat all these cookies myself and not give you any at all, even if it makes me sick. So there. Thhbthbthbthbthbthb!