Something about seeing rooftops and recognizing the tops of buildings far out in the distance that you'd been to once before or had driven past feels like something magical when you live in a climate where elevation is non-existent and if you want to see rooftops, you sit at a restaurant with a second-story balcony and hope you can spot one. My sister who is just three short months from turning seventeen, dancing upon her last days of the school year, is often laden with the typical teenage apathy these days but yet something about this park, this view of a city that has always seemed so familiar until we spotted it from above, was enough to bring out the sparkle in her eyes. Ethan danced around the graffiti-ed asphalt, babbling something about "round and round" and "top world!" The rain sprinkled down ever so finely, almost impossible to be felt. And I wondered, really, how in the world it was possible for my mere human heart to love two little people so very much?
I still envision my sister as a curly-haired toddler with a penchant for all things Lizzie McGuire, who wanted to grow up and be an actress or performer or somehow the center of attention with her wit and humor and femininity and all other things I found so unfamiliar and foreign. My kitchen table is packed with boxes of all things Curious George, of all things that scream "Ethan is almost two!" and the nervous breakdowns that accompany this realization and then here, too, is this young woman with turquoise hair and a nose ring who is close to seventeen years old. Somehow time has passed and fallen into this great abyss that we stared off into today, sipping milkshakes and ignoring the droplets of rain. Of summertime disguised in thunderstorms. Of memories that were once had, ready to be had again through the eyes of my child. Of my sister carrying on the agonizing ritual of poorly explaining things to young children out of enjoyment for the way they parrot what they've learned, like the fact that this hole at the "top of the world" is a "hole to China."
But then I imagine it's likely not as bad or annoying or mortifying as the time I coached my sister at age five to audition for a talent show with a Blink 182 song, my mom pretending she didn't know either of us as the sweet blonde little girl crooned "work sucks, I know" into the microphone and sealed the fact she wasn't going to receive a callback. (She didn't.) This is life in all it's sweetness and magic (and retaliation) and goodness and I am ready to take it all in, ready to drive back from the park and recount a story from one of my visits there, so many years ago. "I know," my sister says, and finishes the story that there's no possible way she could have truly remembered, but she always does. She always listened.