Well, they are when your dad was a musician. In the 70’s. With feathery hair, tight jeans, and a shark-tooth earring that brought all the girls to the yard. I’ve yet to learn how to master that awkward silence filled with mental math and the twitching of fingers when people ask me how many sisters I have. Said aloud, it sounds more like I’m making up some sort of white trash word problem, with 2 halves from first and one from second and a fourth from third, carry the one, solve for ex, and wash it all down with a jug of moonshine.
One February, three years ago, my husband had dragged me to a dinner at some blogger’s house which I was mostly dreading. Misanthropic extrovert is the best way to describe the love/hate I feel about socializing with new people. But there were going to be fish tacos and I love fish tacos more than I hate people. By the end of the night, Shannon and I had moved beyond the sanitized, shrink-wrapped, getting-to-know-you bullshit and were squeeing over Hitchhiker’s Guide and Tori Amos b-sides, and then there was somehow an offhand comment about a half-sister from her musician dad and it was done. It was like, in her eyes I saw my future in an instant.
When I met Shannon, I was estranged from my own little sister and mourning that loss in unspoken ways. I had other sisters of course, and other friends. But sometimes, when you’ve lived a certain kind of life, you need someone else who has also lived that kind of life. Someone else with daddy/mommy issues. Someone else who knows that surviving tragedy and desperation can make you really strong, but more importantly it can make you really funny. Someone else who recognizes that the truest, purest love can only be expressed with imaginary press releases.
It seems impossible that I’ve only known Shannon for 3 years. She is the best friend I have ever had — making me laugh when I thought I couldn’t, letting me cry when I didn’t know I needed to, loving my girls like they were her own, giving me so much and letting me give back in my own way, showing me that blueberry lemonade malt liquor is thicker than blood. She’s given me advice, love, BFF necklaces, vampire candy, strength, faith in humanity, a future husband for my eldest, Times Square, the best mashed potato recipe on earth, confidence, and so many eyeshadows. She’s given me sisterhood and I will hoard it and covet it and cherish it always.
I know the only way I was physically able to leave Texas is because she was leaving too. And it still feels gross to have her so far away. I love that the West Coast is full of the promise and love she deserves, but I wish we could magically have a pretend 30 minutes in Houston today, sitting on my back porch, the little girls playing in the sand, the older kids finding the line between playing/flirting. We would make awesome guacamole and mediocre Melonades (because we never have the right ingredients), and eat store-bought cake with melty vanilla ice cream. We would laugh and cry and laugh again and yell at kids and sigh deeply and watch a movie and look at old photos and eat some more. Hey, it’s my pretend 30 minutes. I can take whatever liberties I want with the space/time continuum.
Happy birthday, my sweet Shannon. You have given me so many gifts, but the best one is you. I love and miss you and hope you have a beautiful day.