My sister Rachel, 10 years my senior, has been jealous of me her entire life. That’s right, the jealousy started before I was even born.
It’s easy to understand why.
I’m ten years younger, I’ve always been skinnier, my hair is thick and luxurious and naturally blond, and perhaps most importantly, I’m a gay man. If there’s anything left in life my sister could transform herself in to, it would likely be a gay man.
But she’s stuck, boobs and all.
The picture above – that’s my first Christmas and the notes in my baby book say that Rachel was so preoccupied with opening her presents, that when left to care for me for just a few moments, she placed me directly in front of the fireplace.
To be honest, it’s a miracle I survived childhood. When we weren’t playing games of “Fire” or “Hold your breath under water and don’t worry if you pass out” she was pinning me down tickling me mercilessly and spitting on my face.
Once, when my parents were away on a trip, she and her friends locked my best friend and me in my 2nd story bedroom, took out the light bulb in the ceiling, and had a raucous keg party. My best friend and I tied together sheets and climbed out of the second story window to escape.
We were 8. (Kids, that means she was 18.)
And this was just days after she took me to a high school keg party at her friends, where I was picked up by one of her male friends and tossed, with my clothes on, in to their pool.
She used to prostitute me out to her older cheerleader and volleyball girlfriends who couldn’t get a date and make me french kiss them. I was 10.
You might be wondering why Rachel and I still talk.
While some of the above is actually true and some of it hyperbole, Rachel is part of my soul. As I’ve thought about her on the the days leading up to her birthday and what to say, I can’t even begin to come up with words that describe the love between siblings.
And I’m really fucking good with words.
But let me just say this – if friends are the family that you choose, then Rachel is the sister I would choose as my family.
She took me in, selflessly, housing me for entire summers while she was in college and I was 10-12 – with little more than $100 allowance given for a month or so, we made due…rolling quarters, eating tacos, finding extra money to buy frozen yogurt and sometimes even a movie.
I am sobbing thinking about this right now because I cannot imagine having done what she did, at that age. I can’t even imagine having been asked.
She took me in again later in my life in high school, when I needed to not live at home anymore, and sheltered me while she herself was learning to be a mother to Nathan.
She’s never failed me. She’s pissed me off, but never failed me.
Including the night I told her I was gay.
I was so nervous because I feared she wouldn’t let me ever see my nephew and nieces again. She was out on one of her wild-womens’ weekends, and this particular time, I tried to introduce her to the concept of Redbull and Vodka. We danced, it was fun, and I got depressed.
I sat down with her friend Missy and explained why, while Rachel was in the bathroom. I was crying. Missy reassured me and so when Rachel returned, there in the Triple Door, I came out to her.
I don’t even remember the rest but nothing was lost and everything was gained in that moment.
There are other stories to tell, and beyond the millions I owe her for food she bought me as a kid, I owe her for a great many more things than that.
Happy birthday, to the original “spoiled brat.” I don’t have words.
For other stories of her abuse: