Today my baby sister turns twenty four, a year that was, for me, frustrating and frightening. It was the year I returned to graduate school, the year I began working my way toward a teaching license. (The year I left poetry.)
In honor of her birthday, I will give you twenty four things I know about her:
She was born two days before Christmas, and my mother had to have surgery for gall stones the next day. Before she was born, I confessed all I wanted was a baby sister and a kitty, and a year after Chelsea was born, we had both, though Tiger did not stay with us long, after biting Chelsea on the cheek. She was a nasty cat, but Chelsea now has two not-so-nasty cats, Picasso and Maggie Mae. She didn't like playing games with me when we were young because she hated losing, but she would always watch if I played with our dad. We have video of her in a pink tutu; she wanted to be a ballerina but didn't take dance lessons. She's only slightly taller than I am now, but when she was younger, she was long and stick thin. We used to play Bobbsey Twins together, solving mysteries in our backyard. She was Flossie and I was Nan. When she was really young, her skin was white as paper, so I thought, and her blonde hair was wispy and nearly-white too. I used to be afraid when we took her outside, that she would burn up and disappear like smoke. We were very close when we were younger, even though we're four years apart; we used to play constantly outdoors in the summer in Tennessee. When I was a teenager, and then when I moved out, we grew apart, which was always very sad for me, and we had a hard time finding things to say to one another. But we are close now, incredibly so, and I would fly to Austin in a heartbeat, if she needed me. I love her fiercely. And she is deserving of fierce love, because she's got a good heart and a good soul. She is going to school for social work now, but I'll always think of her as primarily an artist. She's particularly a talented photographer, but she's also had art shows in painting as well. She works at the bookstore chain where I worked for six years. She was in a particularly bad car accident when she was fifteen, where she broke her leg and another person died. She was actually "supposed" to be sitting in the front seat, but the boy switched places with her. That boy crashed into the windshield, leaving him permanently brain damaged. Chelsea spent some time in intensive care; they discovered she stops breathing when she's on morphine. That car accident was a frightening time for our family; my husband (boyfriend, of only a few months then) was so kind, driving me to the hospital before the sun rose when I found out. We used to fight over the leftover mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving. Now I wish we were able to see each other over the holiday, so we could share. She loves spanikopita and hummus. (And so do I.) When we were really young and living in Tennessee, we dressed up and did an entire rendition of Cats, and it's on videotape somewhere. I hope she achieves every one of her goals for this year, and I hope to actually visit her in Austin in 2008.
15 hours ago