So my sister is one of those people who always looks good. I mean, always. She can pull an outfit together like no one's business. And it isn't all designer duds; this girl can shop. It's a special kind of special talent she has, this ability to muster up energy to shop for hours, to dig through sale bins and find something totally chic at Kmart and throw it on with designer shoes and a knock-off bag, look like a million bucks and make it all seem so... effortless. (It's true, silly. Stop shaking your head.)
[ I don't have that kind of gene. I got the wow-I-can-totally-make-something-out-of-that-trash gene. The one that eyed my mom's cardboard boxes (supplies for making barbie furniture) and toothpaste caps (lampshades!) and Pringles cans (musical instruments, telephones with string, barbie to-go containers) the possibilities were endless. No trash was safe from my schemes. ]
Kim even has perfect hair. She worked at a salon for a couple years. Clients would come in and ask to have their hair styled 'like the girl at the front desk'. And the stylists had to tell these cash-waving people it couldn't be done. 'I can give you the cut, but it won't look like hers. She's really got, like, the perfect hair ...' It's all glossy and thick and does whatever she wants it to do. When it was long, she looked like a pantene girl. When it is short, she looks like some cute spunky celeb. And sometimes she goes months without cutting it, and you know what? It still looks that good.
I know. Do you hate her yet?
Because I haven't even told you about the green eyes and olive skin and crazy good comedic timing. Just ask her about the time she got roped in to being a Girl on the stage at a Tracker Boats convention and had to model with the fishing boats. (But use the bathroom first. I'm warning you, when she gets to the part about twirling around on the fishing perch chair in her stilettos and chandelier earrings for the grand finale reveal, it. is. too. much.)
She loves animals and has been known to pick up strays and lost dogs and take them home. Like the two basset hounds she put in the back of her car and drove around until she found their weary humans. Or the puppies she takes in. I've told her for years that she should volunteer with a shelter organization. But I guess she is kind of already doing her part.
We grew up together, two girls, moving around the country a bit with a father in the service. I was older and wiser and bossed her around a lot and made her play School, making up really hard worksheets that were way beyond her level, finding joy in marking them up with red pen. I tricked her into shelling eggs that weren't really hard-boiled, leaving a drippy mess on the counter. I wrote plays for us to preform and always made her play the boy part. We liked to clink our glasses together and toast, and one time we did it with such fervor -- CHEERS! -- that we smashed our milk-filled amber juice cut-glassware and got sent to our room. We played soccer and trick-or-treated, roller skated in the driveway, made up dances to our favorite songs, witnessed a string of boyfriends and dances. We were sisters sharing an average middle class suburban American life.
We haven't lived in the same town for 12 years. Our ties are strong but we slip in and out of each others daily lives, missing out on the details. But we are each a physical reminder, a same-age witness, of our childhood. Partners in crime. Companions in the back seat of the station wagon on road trips. Outfit advisers and manicurists. Confidantes and enemies. Sisters and friends.
So when her birthday rolls around, I like to do something special. But I really don't trust my taste when it comes to buying her things. Plus, I have that special trashy gene. (ha. That's what I'm going to call it from now on.)
I made a pj ensemble (Simplicity 9505) from vintage sheets this summer and she liked it. The one I made was from a new-still-in-it's-1960's-package sheet set. Very pretty, but lacking the super softness that you can only find with 25 year old linens washed a hundred times and then bleached for good measure. I didn't have enough of the butterfly sheet to also make the top, so I grabbed the softest percale-y pillowcase and used it for the cami and accents on the bottom of the pant legs.
Oh my heck is it soft. I tried the set on, approved, and then immediately wrapped it up because if I let it sit around too long I'm pretty sure I'd have slipped back into them at bedtime, scooted into my covers, pulled up a book and sent her a gift card to her favorite store instead.
So what I'm saying is, sister, I must really really really like you. Happy birthday. xoxo
(And sorry about the worksheets. That wasn't very nice of me.)