Make no mistake: I love her dearly.
I have loved her for almost as long as I can remember. My earliest memories often revolve around our families, her little brother being the same age as me, and my brother being the same age as her. But her brother and I always argued — a feud which lasts to this day, mainly perpetuated by his bro-ish treatment of women and my insistence on challenging him on it. (I forever stick my nose in where it is unwanted.) Her brother and my brother were friends, but lost touch as they grew older. But she and I just grew closer.
I remember our childhood, tobogganing together on rare snowy days in the winter; sharing lifts to and from school; curling attentively over computer screens playing The Sims. We attended Sunday school together until I lost my faith at the precocious age of eight. As we aged through awkward adolescence, our shared memories changed. She is two years older than me and, in my eyes, effortlessly cool. We went to gigs together and spent two years being deafened by local bands at the youth club where we helped out setting up shows. She came with me when I bought my first pair of high heels, gave me lifts into town, looked after me the first time I got wasted. In return I did her eyeliner and held her hand when she got her cartilage pierced, and listened to countless hours of complaints about university boys. I heard laments about a skinny Welsh hipster for a year — six months of unrequited infatuation, and six months of bitterness after their one-time tryst turned sour.
She is the big sister I never had, and she has shaped me more than any other person outside my family. To say I love her is to state the obvious.
But sometimes, she drives me crazy.
I feel guilty for being annoyed with her, because it’s over the most innocuous things. I’m annoyed that every conversation has to be about her and that sometimes I feel more like her therapist than her friend. I’m annoyed that she overspends on clothes she never wears. And I’m annoyed that, when it comes to doing anything together, it’s up to me to organise it.
I know she’s very busy, and sometimes I have to take a deep breath and remind myself that other people have lives too. The world she inhabits revolves around her. Everyone has to make allowances for her. I don’t even think she realises she does it: she’s just so used to total acquiescence that to protest seems futile.
I want to scream at her to change. That I have a life too, and I can’t just fit around her, only need her input when it’s convenient. But all my resentment towards her melts away when we’re together, and it’s just my head on her shoulder and the sound of our laughter.
Sometimes I look at her, and wonder how this happened, how I seem to have grown up faster than she has. People used to mistake our ages when we were out together — I was always assumed to be the older, the more responsible one. And now, I feel like the mature one, booking the accommodation for our self-funded trip to Japan while she plays World of Goo on her tablet.
Maybe I wouldn’t be so frustrated with her if I just accepted how our dynamic has once again changed, how I have gone from little sister to close confidant to the sensible one. It’s funny: I’d trust her with my life, but not with my bank card or calendar.