On Iz, My Favorite Person

my text exchange with Iz

I cannot be actively angry with my sister for more than three days. I tried once, to prolong a petty spat for a week (unless she spontaneously apologized for whatever grievance I hadn’t fully articulated to her), and I just couldn’t do it. We went to Food Truck Friday downtown, I remember, on day three and when she started telling jokes and smiling at me I couldn’t school my expression into a scowl any longer. My cold shoulder was instantly warmed. It’s hard to stay mad at someone you love so much. It’s hard not to talk to someone you need.

My sister Isabelle is my favorite person. She’s my best friend and my role model and I’m incredibly lucky to have her. She’s a lot of things, and I’m going to tell you about those things.

My sister is brave. We share our introvertedness (hereditary maybe, gifted from our father), and yet my sister is a brilliant actress. When I see her on stage I feel her poise and grace and emotion. She lights up and I forget that I’ve helped her with the lines she’s saying countless times. I forget that she hates the dress she wears in the last act. I forget that she’s anything but the lover or murderess or girl lost in wonderland that she’s portraying. And at the curtain call I stand and clap and when she smiles down at me I remember it all and I am so proud. My sister was the victim of a high school theatre program that didn’t welcome newcomers with open arms. Her quiet demeanor offstage left her on the edges of the action. They didn’t always have a place for her. So she made her own place. My sister and others from my high school started their own youth run theatre group, Solarium Productions. When Solarium started I watched my brave, beautiful, stubborn as hell sister work harder than I’d ever seen her. On top of lines and costumes and stage directions I saw her agonize over budget and advertising and the disorganized hiccups of creating something entirely new. I saw her grow. I saw her swept up in triumphant group hugs and tell her story to others who felt left behind by theatre in which they had no say.

My sister’s bravery got her into New York University (and Berkeley! Because she’s super smart! Though she declined their offer,) and this year she left our home for the big city all by herself. My timid best friend, who hides with me when the doorbell rings, moved to a brand new place full of brand new people because she wants to learn and grow in the best place she can. My sister studies social work so she can help people. She wants to help the angry and sad kids because she was one of them. She knows what it’s like when life is unfair. We both know what it’s like like to lose a mom too soon. We know how important it is to have someone by your side.

My sister eats microwave meals from CVS in her tiny dorm room. My sister sees Broadway shows with strangers and performs in student plays with the theatre majors. My sister and I recount our awkward fumbling for friendships and outline our academic essays over the phone and when I hear her I can’t help but miss her with every part of myself.

My sister is angry. She is a firecracker. She speaks her mind in ways I can only do after the fact in a convoluted piece of writing. She is witty and cynical and passionate and doesn’t hop on any bandwagons. She seeks out her own information. She challenges authority. Once, in a high school psychology class, she took an argument with her awful teacher to the principal’s office. The teacher wanted to take the class a new movie known for its perpetuation of harmful stereotypes about mental illness and she called him out. She raised her hand and argued. She said what no one else had the courage to. She advocated to the bitter end for what she believes in. My sister does the hard things. My sister gets angry when she knows she must. My sister launches into speeches and tirades and explains what’s what to an administration that would rather she just sit down and stay silent.

My sister is funny. She marathons Gilmore Girls for weeks on end in her pajamas. My sister watches every dumb rom-com she can find on Netflix. My sister sends me scores of Snapchats of her making weird faces and noises. She dances with me in the kitchen late at night when we have the house to ourselves. She scream-sings with me when it’s a scream-sing kind of day and lets me harmonize with her and her guitar when it’s a “we’re professionals” kind of day.

My sister cries when things hurt. She yells when things are difficult. My sister knows how to make me laugh and smile and forgive her because I love her too much to be angry for long. My sister is my favorite person. And you should know that.