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Festival Part II (My Sister)

April 28, 2016

I don’t speak to my sister. It’s a long story. She’s tried to worm her way back into some kind of relationship with me but it hasn’t worked. She approaches me with anger and I don’t respond. Or she sends me a message like, “I’m going to be in town if you want to see your sister.” And I’m all, “I’m good.”

My favorite attempt was the letter inquiry. “I’m thinking about writing you a letter,” she texted one day. “Is that something you would want me to do or would you rather I didn’t.” It was a set up question. If I said yes, then I would be asking for her attention. I would be saying that I want her back in my life, which is what she wanted me to say. If I said no, then I would be a cold, mean bitch who didn’t even want to hear what she had to say. Then she would get to go around and tell everyone with her well practiced, oscar-winning puppy dog eyes and sad face that her own sister wouldn’t even allow her to send her a letter.

Who the fuck needs permission to write a letter? I called her out on it. Told her she was placing the ball in my cart and I wasn’t picking it up. If she wanted to write a letter she should write a damn letter. She e-mailed me a tirade of accusations peppered with sad pleading and declarations of martyrdom. I replied with an honesty I had never been able to unleash on her before when I was her needy little sister who craved her attention.

“I guess I need to give you a reason to want to be around me,” she ended the exchange with surprising truth.

A few days before Festival, she left me a voice message. She would be in town with her long-time friend, Monica. If I wanted to see her, I should let her know. She sounded angry and defensive. I replied with a text, that I was hosting a friend and maybe we would run into each other. Nobody runs into anybody at Festival, I thought. It’s too crowded. 

I walked around downtown Friday night, looking for good music and maybe some friends to hang out with. I watched some drummers from Burundi for a while, then moved on to the main stage for a Latin performer, Boogat. As I walked into the crowd, I heard my name. I looked down and there she was. Shit.

“Hey Vivian,” I said reluctantly. She still had a boot on her foot. She and Monica were situated in the middle of the park on ground-level folding chairs. Who brings chairs to Festival? I thought. I bent down and gave her a hug.

“Do you remember Monica?” she asked.

“Of course,” I said. I had met Monica about a dozen times over the past 20 years. I gave her a hug as well and awkwardly sat on the cement next to Vivian, waiting for Boogat to start playing. She launched into an update of her life in the repetitive, sing-songy way she has of speaking.

“Marie……Marie…..I’m seeing somebody who lives in Youngsville. And it’s kind of serious,” she announced with fake coyness.

“Is he around?” I asked.

“No he has his kid this weekend,” she said. “He has a seven-year-old. Can you believe that?” she asked as if we were picking up where we left off 10 years ago. “I came in Thursday so I could see him. So I saw him already and then Monica was meeting me today so we met up. But I came in Thursday so I could see him. He lives in Youngsville and it’s kind of serious. And he has a kid. And I came in Thursday so I could see him, so now I’m just hanging out with Monica.”

“Uh huh.” I stood up when the band started.

“Where’s your friend?” she asked.

“He’s not here yet,” I said.

“You’re here by yourself?!” she asked as if I had just told her I was flying to Mars on a winged pig.

“Yeah,” I said.

I awkwardly stood there, moving my feet a little and standing on my toes to see the performer. I heard my name again and looked ahead to see my friend Lucy who had turned around to find me right behind her. “Hey!” I exclaimed, thankful for an excuse to leave the weird situation. She hugged me, pulled me over to her crew and introduced me to a bunch of people. “Hang out with us,” she pleaded, handing me a plastic cup with rum and punch in it.

I thought it would be rude to abandon Vivian without saying goodbye so I turned back around, bend down to hug her and said, “Bye Vivian, I’ll see you around.” And returned to my friend. They were a lively bunch and I was quickly caught up in the silliness, encouraged by the Latin beat. It was fun.

After a few songs, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned around and Vivian was behind me. “We’re going,” she said. “Ok, Bye Vivian,” I said and turned back to Boogat. A few seconds later, and I felt another hand. I turned around and her friend Monica was looking at me with a very stern face.

“Your sister loves you, Marie” she said dramatically, as people around us jumped and sang and danced.

“I know, Monica,” I said.

“She loves you and she’s hurting.” she said again.

I looked her directly in the eye. “I know Monica. I know more than you do. Thank you. Have a good night.” I turned back around trying to at least appear unaffected. I was furious. If Vivian had taken a small step forward by having a pleasant interaction, Monica put us five steps back. I don’t know if it was Vivian’s idea but I could see her behind us, pretending not to see Monica talk to me.

I can only the imagine the picture she had painted to Monica.

Poor, poor Vivian. Her little sister won’t talk to her anymore. And it’s not her fault. I mean she made some mistakes, sure, but how long is her cold little sister going to punish her for her long ago past mistakes? After all, all she did was try and try to be nice to her. All she offered was nothing but kindness. Poor, sweet Vivian, the everlasting victim of everything in her life since the dawn of time. Our parents abused her, her husband was a controlling asshole, her children were ungrateful, her back caused her addiction, the state pressed charges unfairly, the drug tests were rigged, the judge was in a bad mood, and now her family has abandoned her. It’s not her fault. And she’s hurting. 

I stood there, moving slightly to the music, trying to get back into happy Festival mode. Your sister’s hurting! What a crock of shit, I thought.

Vivian doesn’t actually want to spend time with me. She wants to be able to say that she’s on good terms with her sister. She wants the attention I used to give her, excited for every visit, longing for her attention and approval. She wants the 14-year old who looked up to her like she was a beautiful goddess. She wants to complain for hours on the phone, repeating the dramatic lines, inquiring nothing into my life. She needs the satellites to revolve around her sun. She broke all the bonds and is looking around wondering, “Where did everybody go?”

I wanted to turn around and go up to Monica and say,

Hey Monica, did she tell how she hurt her foot? The single car accident that was caused by either by a dog in the road or her taking a photo of the sunset depending on when you ask her, an accident so severe it totaled the borrowed car she was in. Did she tell you that she hurt it again when her “foot slipped,” as she drove home drunk? Did she tell about the DUI she got the night before our family reunion? The crawfish boil we were having to celebrate Monique’s completion of treatment for breast cancer?  Oh, and by the way, that was a few months ago. Not a long-past sin to be forgiven of the “recovering” addict. What about the affair with the married man or the one with her high school boyfriend who used to hit her? Did she tell you that the reason why I can’t stand to be around her is that when she got out of prison she barked at me with insults and snide remarks every time she saw me? Criticizing my life, my friends, where I lived, what I said, what I did, even yelling at me that my childhood memories of our brother were wrong because she knew him better than I did. Did she tell you how I paid for phone calls, visited her, bought her food, called the warden, her kids and her husband and wrote her countless letters while she was in prison? Did she explain to you that the reason I don’t want to spend time with her is that despite 18 months in prison and years of therapy she remains a fake, lying, using, self-destructive, walking lie?

But I didn’t. I pushed down the anger and the guilt for imagining this speech.

I watched Boogat and drank Festival punch and laughed and danced and wondered if Mr. Houston would actually show up the next day.




From → Rantings

One Comment
  1. Good for you taking the high road.

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