Since my cousin has been here, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have an older sister. I’ll be talking more about birth order next week, but I think it’s safe to say that my cousin has always been my unofficial big sister. Have a question? I’d love to hear it, so feel free to email me (mellow1422 [at] aol) or ask me on Facebook or Twitter, friends! Today’s question is…
Which cousin do you look up to and why?
I’m the older sister. With this auspicious title comes a heavy responsibility, maybe even a calling.
I’ve come to relish in my job as Sister Bear (who else but an older sister can warn of the dangers of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll?), but it wasn’t always this easy. In fact, my pre-teen years were fueled by resentment over seven little words that seemed to escape my mother’s lips every hour, on the hour.
“Set a good example for your sister!”
What about me, I screamed in my head? Where was my example of all things proper, of life lessons culled from the ages?
Where was MY older sister?
My cousin, Mona, is four years older. By sheer default, that made her the cool older sister in my eyes. In the summers when we’d visit her sprawling Wisconsin home, I did my very best to be the Skipper to her Barbie. I wanted to like the same music she did (U2). I wanted to have the same hairstyle she did (beautiful wavy sandy blonde locks that hung neatly over her shoulders). I even wanted to imitate her sense of high fashion (the coolest jeans and jewelry this side of the Illinois-Wisconsin border).
A few years later, she and her family — my aunt, uncle and twin cousins — moved to Virginia. When we went to visit them over spring break, I was still in awe of her. One night, she even went out – alone – with her friends. I think she was going to a concert, but her final destination didn’t matter. She was 16, had her license and could go out for a night on the town. Now, she’s a responsible gal, so I’m sure her outing wasn’t very wild, but to this 12-year-old pip-squeak, I figured she’d be smack dab in the middle of the mosh pit by 8 p.m., at which time I’d no doubt be wearing my Rainbow Brite pajamas and my mother would be tucking me under the covers.
Even now, years later, Mona still razzles and dazzles, and I can’t help but revert back to that wide-eyed pre-teen at the thought of her glamorous life.
She works in my dream city (New York City), lives in the coolest apartment (near the heart of Manhattan) and has the personality traits I’ve worked years to master (confidence, friendliness, that certain ‘give ’em hell’ attitude that’s gotten her where she is today). I’m certain she even walks down Madison Avenue chatting on her iPhone.
And just like an older sister, she taught me the essentials of life. How to laugh. How to get the cheapest price for anything from a new laptop to a simple parking spot. How to put up the perfect Christmas tree.
In fact, she’s even the envy of 50-somethings’ eyes. At a wedding a few years ago in New York, my mom, aunt and I were walking into the church. In front of us, strutting down the sidewalk like a French model, those same blonde locks sparkling against the early-August sun, Mona paved the way for us. She clutched a black bag that of course matched perfectly with her flowing black dress and designer black shades – oh, and don’t forget those skinny black heels. Think “Sex and the City” without the constant talks of love and trysts.
“I want to be Mona,” whispered my mother.
Her words spoke to the masses. It was a lesson in all things hip. Chic. A secret glimpse into the future.
I’m a pretty shy girl, so I’ve never actually said any of this to Mona, but I was always watching. Studying. Analyzing. Sometimes older sisters come in not-so-traditional forms, but when you find them, they can help you find yourself, whether they even know it or not. Who knows, maybe even some of Mona’s lessons have seeped into the older sister I’ve become.
[Photos via Audrey Hepburn Complex]
I have to take this opportunity to brag about my older cousin. Growing up, she was four years older than me, so just old enough to kinda seem like an adult. She would always be the teacher when we played school, and I actually liked listening to her. 🙂
She got married super young and had a couple kids by the age of 24. Still, she got her bachelors and then her masters in women's studies, even while juggling her family life. Now, she is really politically active with women's rights issues and runs some great groups for young girls getting them involved at an early age. I want to be her one day!
Beautiful writing, Melissa!
Aww, this is sweet. Pretty sure Mona would appreciate reading this. I don't have an older sister either but I got some pretty awesome close female friends who have played that role at some point in my life.