Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Happy Birthday Karyna

Today is my sister's birthday - Happy Birthday Karyna! I love you!!! She's absolutely amazing, and I am blown-over impressed with what she has done, and am thrilled at the bright future that I see ahead of her. She is truly an inspiration - even though she's a mere 3.5 years younger than Yours Truly. But, as she never ceases to remind me, she's an inch or two taller... as if that's supposed to make up for the 3 years, 5 months age difference. But we're sisters all the same, and while we joke around and tease each other a bit, I still love her. And we've shared some great adventures.

Growing up, we weren't always the best of friends, or even on speaking terms. Family car trips became nightmares as she would invade my side of the backseat (I got my seat PLUS the middle - being bigger and older, of course), and we had our fair share of fights. One of the worst being a few weeks after our parents moved into their dream home on Como Lake. They had gone out for a walk around the lake, and we were fighting about computer time, bathrooms, or something typical teenagers fight about, when suddenly one of us - I don't remember who - kicked out as hard as she could. Luckily, the aim was off. And while neither of us were hurt in the process, the wood railing support on the oak stairway banister wasn't so lucky. Our fight was immediately halted as we listened in astonishment and disbelief as the hand-carved railing section was kicked free of its stairway confines and sent sailing down the staircase. At that moment, everything else but the broken staircase fixture seemed important. Our parents - who had just sweatted, worried about, and gone through the torturous journey of acquiring their dream home, would be home any minute. And a blemish of any proportion on the house they had painstakingly fixed up and now loved (envision 13 layers of wallpaper, ugly red carpet, unfinished floors, and squirrels squatting in the walls) would not suffice. Any parent would go nuts at seeing their banister broken - but my parents in particular would be especially upset, in lieu of recent events with the house (money, squirrels, wallpaper, carpet...) It would be enough to drive anyone bezerk, but this might, just might, send them over the edge. We weren't interested in finding out, or coming close to testing the limits... At that moment where the banister panel was bouncing freely down the staircase, both Karyna and I stopped breathing. We ceased arguing immediately and gave each other a look of complete and utter horror. Think of the close up of Roy Schneider (I think that's the guy) - the police officer in Jaws when the shark attacks. (And then cue the scary music.) Suddenly viewers are face to face with his look of horror, while the background seems to leap away from his profile. It was one of those moments - we might as well just start digging our graves now, because when Mom and Dad come home, they're going to kill us!

We immediately became a unified pair, and set out to remedy the problem as quickly as possible. We flew down the stairs, retrieved our broken panel, and surveyed the damage. It didn't look too bad - perhaps it was just loose? The panel wasn't broken, but there was a 2 or 3 inch missing section of wood from it's base, a long and narrow strip, a few millimeters deep. This normally wouldn't have been a problem, but because the panel was stained a beautiful dark brown, the light colored wood from the miising piece was a dead giveaway that something had been amiss. We peered out the front door - checking to see if Mom and Dad were walking up the front driveway. Not yet... we may just have enough time to figure this thing out... We crept back up the stairs, not speaking a word. Nothing needed to be said, as we knew what was at stake. The consequences of failure would be too disastrous to discuss. We were on a mission. Karyna went to the top of the landing while I tried to slide the panel back into place... It still fit! We were in disbelief, as it seemed simply too good to be true. Holy cow - this might actually work. Except for the big 2 inch gap, we might be able to pull this off. But it was SO apparent that the piece had been forcibly wrenched from its original position, and the light colored wood was a dead giveaway, just about at eye-level about 2 or 3 steps down from the turn in the staircase. It really didn't look all that bad where it was, and if you didn't know to look for it, you would never guess that it had been knocked loose. We pondered. We discussed. We tried various techniques of covering up the long and narrow spot. Finally - and I don't remember who came up with the idea - we decided to use a brown colored marker in a desperate 11th hour attempt at disguising our mishap. Karyna retrieved her box of smelly markers - the kinds where red smelled like cherries, and purple like grape - and we looked for the brown one. Cinnamon. We tried gingerly at first, and then realizing the marker was the perfect! match for the panel color, went about it with much gusto. We had succeeded!

About 5 minutes after we finished our coloring project and made sure that everything was in place, we settled down in the living room and awaited our parent's return. We smiled as they walked in - a perfect pair of little angels. They didn't realize what had happened, and it was only recently that one of us told. Luckily Mom and Dad took it really well - I mean they had to, right. It's been 12 years, so there you have it. Sorry Mom and Dad! :)

As the years progressed, bad was definitely outweighed by the good, and gradually humor and friendship replaced the usual silly arguments. I've been lucky enough to share wonderful experiences with her, and she has truly impacted my life in such a positive way. I had a great time camping with her up on Lake Superior, racing down the Alpine Slide together, going to the "corner store" to buy candy, exploring the backyard and alley together, building forts with the dining room chairs, playing with dolls and doing imaginary stuff that only two little girls can do together - and so many more and numerous experiences that I can't even begin to describe. Through it all, we have been there for each other and I love her a lot.

Which comes to my next part - I am SO PROUD of her. She has accomplished so much, and she has so much to look forward to. She graduated near the top of her class at Lawrence University, got accepted at a fantastic job on the East Coast, and moved out East all by herself. At 22 years old - hello! Amazing. Going through life is challenging, and we all face obstacles, and you know what? Life can throw curve balls now and then - we all go through stuff like that. But at the young age of 22, to be able to move to a new state, 1,000 miles away from your parents and friends, and start a new chapter of your life is truly amazing. She is so smart, brave, has done such a great job with school and her career, and I look forward to the bright future that she has ahead of her. She's also a great supporter for me - I've been able to talk to her about issues that I've had to deal with, and she's been a great source of inspiration. It's not always easy to go through, but knowing that you've got someone there who understands exactly what it's like for you because they've gone through it themselves and share the same past is very comforting. It's what sisters are for. And I will never forget the wonderful time that we shared up at Timberman last August. It was a great weekend, and her support meant so much - just being there was all the inspiration that I needed to finish what had otherwise been a tough race for me. And we had a fantastic time roasting marshmellows and eating lobster at the post-race dinner (not in that order).

So here's to you Karyna! I raise my glass in a toast to you - on your 23rd birthday. I love ya, little sis. We've had some great times, some great adventures, and I look forward to many more. Thanks for always being there for me (even if I am older by 3.5 years!). And yes, I know, I know. You've got a few inches on me. So I guess in the scheme of things, that makes us just about even. You're the greatest sister a girl could ask for - I'm sorry that we live so far apart and I miss you! And next time we decide to kick the banister down the stairs, I say that we try crayon - we may be able to blend the colors a little more and make it look just a little more realistic than the marker. Plus, by this point, the smell of cinnamon has worn off.

PS- you're present will be in the mail this weekend!

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