Friday, August 19, 2016

Monday, August 15, 2016

Siblings & San Francisco: A Mess of Memories


As a kid I hated San Francisco. Eight year old me would be SO disappointed that I moved here. I adored New York and spent my childhood begging to move there, but San Francisco? No. It was an hour drive away, it was ALWAYS freezing and windy, and everything was too expensive to buy.  The only times I couldn't bow out and was forced to go, was to attend a Broadway show or go Christmas shopping. I would have happily backed out. It wasn't worth the drive to me. Walking down the street in Union Square window shopping was my idea of the WORST day ever, and often I would convince my parents to let me stay at my best friend's house where we'd swim and play Mario all day instead. I, quite simply, hated this town.

But I think it had a lot to do with growing up as the youngest of four. When all six of us went to San Francisco, my opinion and what I wanted to do that day was at the very bottom of the list. No one cared if I wanted to go to Build-A-Bear, because I wasn't going to buy one anyway, and the Disney Store was actively avoided at all costs. So my first interactions with my current windy town was trudging for hours, shivering, and following my siblings or parents around.

Not that I didn't like having siblings, but when you're 7, 8, or 9, something simple can totally throw you. For example, every year we went on some sort of trip, either to Tahoe to go skiing or a camp ground that for some unknown reason was hours and hours away, even though we could literally have camped a few miles from home. One Christmas, all of my siblings asked for portable CD players. I didn't know that I needed one at the time, but that Christmas ruined every family trip that year. Instead of playing games in the cars, all three of my mute siblings sat staring out the window, listening to their music and ignoring me. Every trip that year, I played with my stuffed animals and listened to NPR or whatever awful AM station my dad put the radio on, FOR HOURS. After a LOT of prodding, my sister let me listen to one song on her CD player, an hour, the rest of the trip and I was SO thankful. Once she didn't even notice I'd listened to two.

But I never made that mistake again and the following year I too had a portable CD player to eat an entire pack of batteries over the course of a trip.

Looking back it was a little mean. Not my sneaking an extra song, but the situation in general. Siblings force you to learn at a very young age that you aren't special. I don't intend for this to sound like a pity party, I mean, I learned young that life wasn't fair, and that I needed to fight tooth and nail for what I wanted. I heard everyone tell me that what I could and couldn't accomplish. What we couldn't afford. Which dreams were worth following. "Can't" and "No" were commonly used when it came to my passions. Instead I was told to follow the passions that were convenient.

Luckily, my mom collected books, and there were extra notepads lying around the house (extra school supplies because of siblings), so my affinity for writing was convenient and under lock down. No one knew I liked to write and I made sure to keep it that way. In fact, my mom only came across the book I wrote when I was 13 (4 notepads of cursive, hidden oh-so-carefully under my bed) when I moved out of the house for college. She sent me a photo of the cover and I told her never to read. It really was terrible. She probably tried to read it but couldn't understand it a few pages in. (My handwriting is awful.)

But I digress, I told you those stories to tell you this story about my mean older sister: When she was 13 and I was 10, she bought the brand new Goo Goo Dolls CD to listen to on her fancy handheld CD player. She played "Iris" over and over again FOR HOURS with headphones in, and she would sing along. A few weeks later, I knew ALL of the lyrics to Iris, and I had never once heard the song. Not once had she let me hear it. My sister found this hilarious.

When she finally let me listen to "Iris", I thought it was the best song I'd ever heard in my life. A month or two later it was on every radio station and it became more commonly known as, Overplayed.

So the point of this story is that my sister is a jerk.

But as with most siblings, you become much closer with age. Through every ridiculous fight, I remember my mom telling us how thankful we'd be to have each other when we were older. We thought my mom was crazy and stuck our tongues out at each other, but now, as usual, Mom was completely right. That mean girl that laughed hysterically when I sang along to Iris, is now a mother to a beautiful baby boy and my best friend.

So while having siblings as a kid was a complete nightmare and I hated their guts, I can't imagine the world without them.

And maybe, my hatred of San Francisco as a child, was what allowed me to move here when I was older.

Maybe I wasn't ready for the big city then.

All my love,
L.B.