The Best Friend You Can Never Get Rid Of
I have lots of things to thank my parents for. Sending me to a great school, taking me to weekly hockey-squash-tennis lessons, paying for me to have a LOT of dental work (including nightly headgear that would make me dribble, yay), making sure I had extra maths tutoring, giving me advice, taking me on amazing holidays, making my birthdays a massive deal, letting me have my friends over all the time, putting up with my tantrums, making me feel like I can do anything in the world and also being a pair of amazing people that I one day want to turn into.
I think the biggest thing I have to thank them for though is giving me a sister. Having a sister is something I often struggle to describe; it’s an unbreakable tie that is blood-related but it’s also someone basically handing you a life-long best friend. You don’t have to worry about impressing them like you do with other friends – they don’t have a choice. They will know everything about you until the day you die. The best bits of your personality and your horrifically bad bits. There’s no point trying to hide anything because they can read you like an open book. With my sister I feel translucent. Any sense of trying to cover something up would be met with a raised eyebrow and a knowing look.
I actually have a really early memory of being around three years old and my mum telling me I was going to have a little sister; I remember being in the bath and overhearing a conversation about the new baby. I felt a bit upset because I thought my mum would be too busy to read my books to me; but then my sister arrived and obviously that wasn’t the case, I just got to do things with someone else next to me. Playing Barbies is shit on your own. It was amazing to have someone else to make up dance routines with, to make dens with chairs, to watch really shit American TV with and quote to each other. To use American vocab like “garbage, trash, jerk” and my Mum to worry about the effect of us being obsessed with such trashy sitcoms. We’d pretend that I was Ashley and she was Mary-Kate. I was Tia and she was Tamara. Or the other way around I can’t remember. I don’t know if it’s a memory or a photograph just engrained in my memory but I was totally obsessed with my bald little sis when she was born. There are photos of me hugging her but practically suffocating and smothering her whilst casually watching TV and I’m sure someone must have been concerned behind the camera as I unknowingly squished her little head awkwardly. From a very early age I just wanted us to hang out together; with my brand new little pal.
Then came the bickering when we were a little older. Like all sisters we used to fight, emotionally and physically. There were times when we’d be dressed in the same clothes or receive the same toys. We didn’t want to be the same anymore and began to carve our different personalities. I was more emotional, my sister a lot tougher, or at least better at hiding her emotions. I definitely used to be mean to her, there are photos of my sis with a very short fringe that I “accidentally” cut one Sunday afternoon. I don’t know if I did it maliciously but I definitely had more control over what games we’d play, always try to get the upper hand and pass the blame onto her if something went wrong. Then something changed, and as my sister got older she grew less tolerant of me and would fight back, she wouldn’t let me get away with hurting her and she’d certainly tell me if I was being out of order. I remember the day quite vividly when she decided she wasn’t going to take any shit from me anymore.
The tables turned and she turned into a much tougher, wiser person than I was and actually became the one person I would ask advice from most of the time. Boy problems, friendship problems, weight problems: I should have been the older more mature one but she would always give me such good advice. I remember her writing me out a diet plan on a piece of paper because she had more self-control than me and knew more about food. She sort of knew more about most things. I remember thinking how cool and feisty she was when we were in Malaga and some guys started indiscreetly filming her on their camera phone when she were having lunch (she is very beautiful and attracts lots of unwanted attention). When she realised what the creeps were doing she caught their eye and immediately stuck her middle finger up at them and loudly told them where to go. They looked rather petrified and sheepishly scrabbled at putting their phones away. Obviously I was fuming and gave them the death stare of life. Quite regularly the men in Florence, where she was studying, would openly leer at her in street and she’d very casually tell them to f*ck off as she walked past, in mid-conversation. I was proud of my little sister because even though it made me feel really protective I knew she had actually got pretty tough around the edges.
She’d toughen me up without realising too. If something was bugging me I’d sheepishly go into her room and sit on the bed practically crying and needing the comfort of her wise words; she’d always give me tough love. Never pandering to what I wanted to hear, but the truth would heal the wounds eventually and that’s exactly what I would need to get over whatever it was that was upsetting me. It was tangible advice and if I was fishing for help any longer that I needed to she’d cut me off because enough was enough. She wouldn’t let me moan about something for very long without telling me to get of my bum and go fix it.
This is a trait that I have grown to respect and in fact rely on in later years. Friends and other family members may be worried about hurting my feelings or sugarcoating things that otherwise need to be said. With the relationship I have with my sister I know she’ll always tell me the truth. She is the one person that will always be brutally honest, because she can. She has a get-out-of-jail-free card to hurt my feelings which will never expire and she is the only one that is allowed to completely lay down the harshest truths without any fear of not being forgiven. She would always be forgiven.
That’s the sisterly bond, it’s a secret rule, an exclusive members-only club. That’s the magic of having a sister and I’ll always be so grateful that I have that never-ending best-friendship. I still daydream about us both having a family one day and hosting Christmases at each other’s houses and our husbands being best pals and doing husband-y things together. Whatever happens, having someone to share the ups and downs of proper adulthood is something I’ll never take for granted and knowing it’s impossible to ever fall out for longer than an hour.
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