Childhood and Sisterhood; It’s All Relative

Photo Sister

Enjoying my morning cup of tea while watching a hedgehog have minor surgery is not how I usually start my day. I am a guest at my sister’s home and “Animal Planet” has replaced the “Today” show this morning. 

There are plenty more items on my sister’s animal to-do list. Before the week is over, she intends for me to get chummy with the Dixie Chicks (her four chickens), pet Meeko (her cat) at least once and pal around with Spanky (her dog) who, having sniffed me from head to toe, seems to be considering whether to include me in the same daily welcome status as the mailman. 

This morning, we hear a combination of a honk/crow coming from the chicken coop. This is the signal from the chickens that an egg has been layed. It’s time for my tour of the chicken coop. I learn how to pick up a chicken from behind and choose Dixie to pose with. When I proudly send the photo to Mr. Wiz* and Big A*, they have a good laugh, asking if there was any photoshopping involved and if I will confirm my identity once home and succumb to the family secret handshake. I pick up the eggs from the nesting box and a few minutes later they are being scrambled for our breakfast; delicious! 

I am the city girl, she is the country gal and we are as different as an egg soufflé and a hard-boiled egg. My sister is my dad with a skirt on (which is probably why I love her so much); she is tough, resilient and says what’s on her mind. She cannot seem to sit still and operates at a fast pace, multitasking her way through life. Case in point: while I am methodically preparing and steeping my tea, she has entered her kitchen, executed 40 squats (thus fulfilling her morning exercise regimen) and prepared two dozen of my favorite muffins.

I know it must be bewildering to her as to why the books in my bookcase at home are arranged by author and date of publication and why the chairs in my living room are in perfect alignment to the coffee table. And I’m sure it’s perplexing how I am able to share with her the menus from her visit back in 1984 or produce an Excel spreadsheet on just about any subject. 

Why are we so different? In a recent article from The New York Times, studies by behavioral scientists have revealed that siblings are influenced more by their microenvironment. As it turns out, the family setting does not operate the same for each child. Since each child is unique, personality seems to be formed from experiences not shared, rather than common experiences. 

My sister and I do share an unusual amount of eye rolling, trying to comprehend why we are who we are. Grocery shopping is a good example. She demonstrates her free form, no list technique. As I run down the aisles, trying to keep up with her, I feel lightheaded and anxious, marveling at how the cookbook in her head is planning menus at lightning speed. 

In the hopes of proposing that my shopping list by aisle strategy might be of interest to her, I send a colorful shopping list pad along with her birthday gift. I get the message that, though this will not be a bonding experience, our sense of humor is, when I receive her thank you note written on one of the pages of the pad. 

The night before I leave, we drink wine and dance to our favorite Fleetwood Mac songs under the same sign that, surprisingly, is displayed in both our kitchens: “Never Enough Thyme.” I smile and am reminded that variety is the spice of life and we need to spend our time/thyme together toasting those glimmers of similarities and celebrating our yin and yang.

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.

 

Advertisements

Go Where Your Heart Moves You

Photo Valentines Day

 

I always thought that I was the one that initiated our relationship. After eyeing the cover of that GQ at a newsstand, the photo of that young man in the pin stripe suit and horn-rimmed glasses became the basis of my positive thinking exercises until the hair on my arms stood straight up on the day that I met Mr. Wiz*.

He says he saw me in the taxi next to his at a red light and thought to himself that he’d like to meet me. When he noticed that the man sitting next to me was one of his co-workers, he knew he’d have that chance very soon.

Ours was initially a professional relationship and then a friendship, which blossomed into a business partnership. We spent 24/7 together, working hard to build our housewares sales representation agency. Prospective clients were never invited to our tony business card address; little did they know it was Mr. Wiz’s Park Avenue South studio apartment, chock full of product samples and files.

After our first big sale to a store in the then new and trendy SOHO neighborhood, Mr. Wiz suggested a celebratory dinner in a new restaurant. I remember thinking it might be more prudent to wait until we actually got paid, but his “go big or go home” attitude mirrored my dad’s philosophy and I was smitten. So much so that when he showed me on paper that by moving in together we could afford to rent a Fifth Avenue showroom, I was in.

Our yin and yang continued successfully after we married and Mr. Wiz was offered the chance to run a company in Chicago. From there, we headed to Arkansas for another job opportunity. It was there that he blindfolded me, surprising me with the idea to buy a derelict car dealership in the middle of a tourist town and turn it into a store. Mr. Wiz was a partner in a blacksmithing company when Big A* was born and we traveled to trade shows in a big truck, with Big A sitting happily between us in a specially designed car seat custom built by the company’s welders.

For a while, it was fun living in what I liked to describe as the movie set of “Little House on the Prairie,” but we missed the city life that we were accustomed to. A brief move back to New York left us thinking that maybe we should pick the city rather than the job, which brought us to Chicago.

Losing the vote to move from the area, Mr. Wiz was content to rehab units in our condo building and Big A and I were happy that our only move was from one floor to another. Years later, we would finally bid Chicago farewell, retire early and head to Austin, Texas where we currently reside. Soon after arriving in Texas and in order to keep the momentum going, Mr. Wiz invited me to walk 500 miles across Spain on the Camino with him.

After all these years, I still see the same sparkle in Mr. Wiz’s eyes and that smirk on his face as he conjures up another adventure. We are still two peas in a pod, though the pod has now become the vessel that moves us from one exploit to another. Sometimes I wonder where I’d be now, had I not taken a chance on someone who was more like the person I wanted to be than the person that I actually was.

When Gloria Estefan was asked the secret of her loving relationship with Emilio, her spouse of many years, she smiled and answered “…Remember to shave your legs…” I knew exactly what she meant; don’t take any of the facets of your relationship for granted. Keep those first date feelings close and use them to propel each day into an environment that houses a bit of mystery and romance; live, laugh and go where life takes you.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Mr. Wiz!

 

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.