Monday, August 23, 2010

One sibling cries, the other doesn't. Sisters, brothers, and why I chose to write about Amelia and Muriel.

Everyone tells you that sibling relationships are complicated. I'm living proof. I have an older sister who I adored when I was growing up. And an older brother who basically acted as if I was non-existent. As time went on my sister's relationship with me got more and more complicated. And my brother's? Well it stayed just about the same. Now we're all adults and our parents are dead. What has changed between us exactly? I wonder about it, because I just spent the weekend being a ping pong ball. First one called, then the other. I listened. I tried to do my best to talk to both of them. And I realized that I'm in a familiar position. I'm the go-between, the mediator, and something that would surprise those who are close to me, the voice of reason. Let me add that I'm a mere ten years younger than my sister, and twelve years younger than my brother. But why does that matter now? It's not about the numbers, it's about the relationship. Theirs seems set in stone. Yet I wonder if that's true. Or if this is just the last time they're going to get to struggle. Once we finish probating the will and dispose of my mother's assets what will force them to interact with each other? Will they ever speak again?

I haven't had time for the novel in the last few days, I've been writing an essay about my own children growing up and my attempt to deal with it. It's humorous, and I hope almost finished. When it's done I hope to return to Amelia. I'm nearing the end of my time with her and with Muriel. But I understand why I've dedicated so much to this novel. I'm not just fascinated with her, I'm also fascinated by the sibling relationship. It one that impacts every other close relationship you have. It doesn't matter whether you end up talking to your siblings, or not. It's still what started you on whatever course you take. And the love, the hate, the indifference is there. It lives with you and in you and you have to deal with it.

I watch my own siblings at war. And I know that they love each other, but it's not a particularly good kind of love. And it doesn't make either of them happy. It's a trap, the love they feel. Who knows what will come of it. Frankly, I have a much better shot at understanding Muriel and Amelia's relationship. Now isn't that sad?


  1. Does the adored older sister reciprocate your affection even though the relationship has gotten more complicated? Being the youngest in my family, I can relate to hero-worship of older sisters.

  2. Now there's a really complicated question. I have often wondered whether she liked me or not. I think she did when I was little, but then who doesn't like being worshiped. Once I got older we began to have all sorts of trouble. Now we are kind of on the other side in some ways. In others, not so much. But then having to dismantle a parent's home and sell it is incredibly stressful. I have no idea what it will be like in the future. But I am so looking forward to that future.