Before I get the collective groans directed at me, I wasn’t trying to find it. It was in a Trader Joe’s bag along with all kinds of notebooks and papers. It didn’t seem like the place to hide something so private. Of course, I could have put it down as soon as I realized what it was.
But I didn’t.
My sister and I are incredibly close. At least I like to think we are. I am nine years older than her. I am 26, she’s 17. I know, that’s even worse. I read a teenagers journal. Not just any journal either. It was a journal between her boyfriend and her. They kept it during the time my mom took her phone away. I know, I’m even more terrible now. Invading the privacy of not just one but TWO teenagers.
Despite our age gap, my sister and I can communicate intellectually. She’s come to me for help on all things literary. One time we even discussed some philosophy at an Ihop. In her journal she stated that she was going through an existential crisis. That’s a phrase I overuse. Maybe she got it from somewhere else but I like to think that I’m the reason why she can understand a phrase like that.
My sister is incredibly private. She doesn’t like to talk about her crushes or her boyfriends. She rarely talks to me about her feelings. I don’t have a problem discussing mine. I mean, I am on this blog. She rarely comes to me with problems besides my mom being “annoying.” She’s a hardass. I assume she has every thing in control, that she’s laid back. She’s ok. She’s a good kid.
And then I read my sister’s journal.
It’s hard to separate the baby that I first saw at the hospital and the individual that she is becoming. It’s hard to accept that the baby with jet black hair and white mittens over her tiny hands, wiggling her little helpless body is now a grown woman with experiences, feelings, memories and frustrations completely separate from my own. I never took that into account when she begged me to stop the car so she can use the bathroom and I didn’t. I didn’t take into account the shame she would hold onto. I thought that a sorry would fix it. When my anger takes over me and I call her an idiot or stupid, I don’t stop to think that this is a memory that will hit like a wave carrying all the other memories of other people calling her names. I’m on that wave. It was never my intention. I suppose that’s how parents feel. It’s not their intention to hurt their kids but they do because we’re all guilty of being selfish in one way or another.
I read my sister’s journal. She wrote a five page entry on her school life. From preschool to now, she detailed the instances when life was unbearable. I remember life was unbearable at seventeen too. My lingering insecurity has always been that I’m too ugly for boys to like me. All my life I’ve had tons of friends. Amazing friends. I still do. I have lots of amazing friends that I can count on. But I’ve never had anyone that I can call, love. No one has ever shown me what it is to be loved. At 26, I’m still incredibly insecure about that. Just last week I went through some petty argument about it that had me crying all day. My sister knows love. She’s madly in love with her boyfriend. Something I didn’t know she was capable of. She’s stupidly in teenager love and that’s ok. However, she longs for friendships. She doesn’t have friends. Something I’ve poked fun at not knowing it was a real painful thought for her.
She wrote about smoking weed at 13. Being and doing stupid things with boys. Thinking that life isn’t real. Giving up and being depressed. She wrote about how much she wanted to die. How suicide has been on her mind since she was a kid.
Initially, my authoritative side was slowly taking over. I stopped and I had to force myself to realize that I don’t have any authority. All I can offer, and what I have been offering, is just retrospective advice on how not to fuck up your life.
I smoked pot as a teenager as well. In my early 20’s too. I’ve bought cocaine at 2am. The last time I snorted cocaine was last year in Vegas. I’m like those Studio 54 disco queens who think of coke in a nostalgic way, “aaah those were the days.” How could I possibly act self righteous on my sister?
I still act stupid with boys. I get drunk and makeout with boys. Well, not so much lately. I’ve passed out while getting intimate on park slides. I can’t tell boys I have crushes on them. I tell boys I like about the boys I’ve fucked, because I’m stupid. I thought sex was the only way to feel human. I thought boys were the only source of confidence. I’m 26 and I still say “boys” like I’m 17. How could I be mad at my sister for thinking the same?
How could I possibly be mad at her for things that I sometimes still feel. For things that I am still trying to figure out myself. I give up constantly and then I get back up again because I’m older and all the stupid things that I’ve done still manifest themselves in my lack of income, education, career and love. I want to get mad at her because I constantly tell her about my regrets. But I can’t. These are the things that we all figure out on or own. She’s 17 and all I can do is just reinforce how much I love her.
In the course of writing this, my sister came home and fell asleep early. I walked into her room, laid down on her bed and woke her up with a tight hug. I started to cry while telling her how much I love her and how sorry I am if I had ever hurt her. She responded sleepy voiced, “I.L.Y too bro. You need to apologize for the times I used the bathroom after you.” Laughter and tears meshed together.
While I held her journal in my hands, I thought about this one day when I was probably 13. I wanted to die. I really wanted to die. I was made fun of constantly. My friends would talk behind my back. I hated gym class because it was just fuel for cruel kids. I went into my closet and I just wanted to disappear. I closed my eyes so tightly, refusing to open them. My stubborn tears sliding down my cheek. I closed my eyes so tight, like in movies, thinking that when I opened them it would be a completely new world. A world of nothingness because that’s what I was wishing for. Nothing. I didn’t want to think. I didn’t want to feel. I didn’t want to exist. I wanted to be nothing because that’s what death is,nothing. And nothing is peaceful. My sister opened the closet door and she was probably 4 years old. She just stood there looking at me, I could feel her and she asks me,
“Whats wrong mochi?”
“I want to die. I hate myself” sounding like a typical teenager.
“No, I don’t want you to die” and she wraps her little arms around my head, “I love you. You shouldn’t die.” and kisses my forehead.
I don’t regret reading her journal. It’s not something that I will ever throw in her face. It showed me how much my sister has grown. She’s an entirely different entity than me, as much as that hurts and scares me. It showed me how much I’ve failed her, how much my parents have failed her. I can only hope that in retrospect one day she’ll learn that or accept that the mistakes we’ve done or the neglect she’s been through wasn’t intended. I hope that she can learn that, just like I’m realizing the same thing about the mistakes of my parents.
But all I want to do is just go back to the week of November 28, 1995. The only time in my life that I had ever asked God for something and he gave it to me. That was when I knew I would never be lonely again. This little tiny being with the cutest feet, an oversized band aid on one of them, mittens on her hands, wiggling her little body, jet black hair, looking up at me, in the corner of a dark and dense hospital room. One day we’ll both want to die so badly. That day though, that day was perfect. No other day has or will ever be as perfect.