I was seventeen on the night I was born.
My sister was a supervisor that summer at our camp in the Pocanos and had just been called away by her walkie-talkie. He walked her to the road to ensure that she got there safely. Then, he returned to me.
We were together, finally alone. His arms around me, we sat on the bench staring at the star-studded black blanket above. I waited for him to make his move. He did not.
We continued to sit, and we talked about how sad we were that the summer was ending and this was our last night together. When my curfew drew near, he walked me to the road where we paused. I stood, holding onto him for support as my nervous legs shivered and my flip-flopped feet wobbled on the unsteady pebbled path below. Our faces glowed, illuminated by the combination of moonlight and street lamps that shone through the translucent summer leaves of the trees that lined the path. Our eyes met.
He said, “I just kissed your sister.”
And in that moment, I was born.
I cried a lot as a newborn. At first, all the time; it was all I knew how to do. I cried for two months, until I hit my terrible toddler twos, when I stopped crying, and instead became very angry.
That fall, when my sister returned home from college for the Jewish Holidays, I erupted at her presence and stormed upstairs. Slamming my bedroom door twice for emphasis, I knew no way to express myself except through a toddler’s tantrum.
As I completed my senior year of high school, my terrible twos tempered into a rebellious childhood. I had always emulated my older sister. I participated in the same extracurricular activities and wore the same style of GAP long sleeved tee-shirts and Birkenstock sandals. Her way had been the correct way, and so I had neglected to develop any way of my own. Still so young, I did not know who I was, only who I did not want to be.
This rebellion ruled my college decision. I chose the opposite world of Brandies University, the perfectly Jewish school my sister had attended in the suburbs of Boston, Mass. Dickinson College, is a very preppy, very private institution in the Middle-of-Nowhere, Pennsylvania where most of the girls wore pastel cable knit sweaters and had long, straight blond hair that matched their long, straight legs. No longer following my sister’s lead, I began to straighten my thick brunette curls and quickly found an eating disorder to slim my Jewish hips.
Lost in my adolescence, I was trying to fit in with those around me. My focus was to spite my sister when it should have been to satisfy my self.
As an adult, I am working to find my own place in this world, allowing others to inspire, but not define me.
When I was seventeen, my older sister stole my first boyfriend and broke my heart. But perhaps it was the greatest gift. Because had she never done that, I may have never been born.