It's January in South Florida and even the thickest degree of sleep-deprived apathy can't compete with the brisk temperatures and clear, crisp blue sky. Late on Friday morning, after Ethan and I walked over seven miles to my mother's house due both to sheer boredom and the cool high-60's temperatures outdoors, I declared to my teenage sister who was busy basking in the glory of an employee planning day that freed her from a day of sophomore year that we should go to the beach. To my surprise, she accepted and scurried along to ready herself for a trip to the beach with Ethan and I. I'm always nervous to approach my sister with any new idea, thought or semblance of an invitation or plan. It normally doesn't end well, at least not like it did even four years ago when she was my twelve year old maid of honor, eager for sleepovers or nights out on the town with her big sister, usually consisting of a stop for a frozen smoothie drink at Borders before stopping to see a movie of her choice.
My sister has always been the focal point of my world. I just might have been the only college student who saw weekends as an opportunity to drive home and spend that time with my eight year old sister, ditching the college lifestyle for one of Webkinz and Limited Too and Hannah Montana dance parties. I would always head back to school on a Monday after stopping to have lunch with her elementary school class in the loud, packed cafeteria. There would be the way she'd excitedly introduce me to everyone in her class, clinging to my arm and begging me not to go when the teacher came to line everyone up for the return back into her classroom. I can still see her little face, her golden hair with the top tied up in a little ribbon, clutching both her lunchbox and my wrist and pleading with me not to go, to just stay another day, please. I'd climb back into my car, the trunk packed with the plastic grocery store bags I'd use as makeshift suitcases, lay my head on the steering while and sob in the parking lot, trying to figure out what really I'd be losing by dropping all of my classes and taking a semester off. The feared wrath of my parents put me back on that highway returning to Orlando, a big city which couldn't have possibly felt more lonely or empty, and sending a postcard or letter home to my sister every day. Yes, every day.
At 16, the cornsilk locks have been traded for a deep brown and now she walks at least five steps ahead of me when out in public together. The "take a picture with me, Lindsay!" days have been exchanged for "don't you dare take a picture of me!" These days she is busy with other things, things I couldn't possibly understand in the same way I grew up believing my own parents could never possibly understand my own teenage priorities, and I've found the roles drastically reversed. I have come to be the one to beg her please, please, just spend one more day with me? as Ethan runs through my parent's house, peeking in each room trying to find his beloved Aunt Megan. These days her music isn't as sweet as the autotuned pre-teen pop music on the mix CD's I'd make her that still sit in my car as if one day she'll want to listen to them again despite the fact I clearly realize those days are very much gone. These days I tread carefully, realizing that each misstep causes an uproar in which she will not hesitate to make it clear that she has no interest spending another second with me no matter how many frozen smoothie drinks I promise to buy her.
Ethan never seems to mind. He is completely obsessed with his Aunt Megan, wanting to do whatever she does, dance to the music she likes to dance to, sit in whatever room she's in just because she's there. Most days, she's less than enthused about the toddler following her around but some days are a good surprise. Yesterday was one of those days.
Not much is more beautiful than the beach in January, but yesterday as a whole could be considered a close contender. Something about the laughter of two of the people I love the most entwined with the subtle crash of small waves against the shore and the clamoring of birds who have discovered Ethan's leftover grilled cheese sandwich. Yesterday could have lasted forever and, well, I don't think anyone would have minded.