Monday, October 6, 2008

Social Experiment

Last night my sister sent me one of those "Tag, you're it!" e-mail games. I played along because it was an interesting social experiment. On more than one level.

First you need to know that my sister is two and a half years younger than I, the dreaded First Born. It got worse when she became the Middle Child when our brother was born. Sis and I shared a room for approximately 14 years and managed to live to tell the tale. Sound strange? Not if you have all the facts. We were not the kind of sisters who were close and shared. No, we were polar opposites. I was shy, she was outgoing. I liked to read, she was a cheerleader. I wrote for the high school yearbook, she managed the Boys' Soccer team, quite a feat in the south back then when football was THE sport. She is the original Devil's say black, she says white, you say day, she says night. You get the picture. Dad use to joke that she didn't march to the beat of her own drum, she had an entirely different symphony playing. Basically, Sis hated rules....which is probably why she ended up self employed.

As we grew up, Sis came to believe that to stay in the town in which we were born and raised was somehow a sign of failure. We'd lived in that state for generations....and in our home town for at least 3 of those generations. We originated from farmers, folks who loved the land and didn't care to leave it. My Granddaddy and Dad broke that mold by both working in the furniture business. It might not have been exciting, but it was a job which raised two families...Dad's and ours. But to Sis, staying in a job which wasn't exciting was a death sentence, so when Dad died of cancer, she moved.

Two of us moved all of 22 miles from home....Sis moved all the way across the country to Washington state. I teased her that she only stopped there because she ran into the ocean. After a few years, she agreed. I think it got really cold that winter, with hell freezing over. :)

Anyway, the game she sent last night was to describe the person who'd sent the e-mail in ONE word. I could see her hitting "Send" and just daring me to choose something like argumentative, obstinate, pig-headed, stubborn or nuts. I probably surprised us both.


Of all the words that rattle around in my head, my fingers typed this word before I had a chance to ponder the question. I realize, with time and half a country between us, that Sis' stubborn streak was rooted in a determination to accomplish her goals. She didn't care if anyone thought those goals was her life and she'd live it as she damned well pleased, thank you very much. Sure, she's tried to drag me into playing defense for her at times. Like the day she informed Mom and my very religious aunt that she'd become a Buddhist. I think they believed she had shaved her head and gone to live with monks. Amid speculation that she might just go to hell for this decision, I was smart enough to stay out of it....and laugh.

And now I'll challenge you to test a few people yourself. You'll definitely be surprised at the answers, hopefully pleasantly so. Not wanting to appear to be an ego maniac, I only sent the game to four people. I know my best buddy will be the last to answer because she never was good at writing letters in a timely fashion and the Internet hasn't helped. But I love her anyway because she's real and genuine. And she always tells me the truth, whether I want to hear it or not.

I've been pondering a career change, for a variety of reasons, but I'll have to admit my ego has been a bit out of whack lately. Although Rachel will back me up about smiling like an idiot at people when we don't feel like it, some days feeling inadequate hurts, even when you know you're beating yourself up needlessly. The three words I got back were the booster shot I needed.

Mom deemed me "thoughtful", my sis-in-law finds me "imaginative" and a previous co-worker who knows about my career challenges dubbed me "sincere". That helped.

And Sis? Didn't I tell you she never plays by the rules? She asked me to describe her, but she didn't send a word for me. Maybe I'm safe.

Unless she reads this.


Susan said...

I think I'd be afraid to play that game! LOL

One of the best things about getting older (and older and older) is still being stuck with the same sisters but feeling less 'stuck' every year... such differences in two strangers would keep them apart, but in family it just keeps us open to wonder, and learning, and hopefully laughing.

I loved this post.

hope said...

You shouldn't be. Ironically, although I don't know you well [yet], the first word that comes to mind when I see your name is GENUINE.

You share...good, bad, whatever and I appreciate that about a person. That you make all that fun to read, appeals to the writer in me.

As for sisters, I remember once getting mad at mine. My favorite grandma, Memaw, replied in that grandmotherly way, "She's your sister" to which 10 year old me blurt out, "Yeah but when you got mad at one of your sisters, there were SEVEN more to talk to!" :)

Poetikat said...

Hope, I commented on your pigeon post below. We had a similar experience.

By the way - we have no kids either - and that wasn't the plan, but it's worked out okay.


Poetikat said...

By way of explanation - I read that in your profile.


Melody-Jane Symonds said...

I wonder what my sister would say about me. Maybe I will try it.

Rachel Fox said...

Heck...just one word! That's some game...especially as people can interpret words so differently...and we all change so much (especially us women - damn those hormonal surges!).

hope said...