Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Happy birthday little sister!

This is a special birthday blog for someone turning 24. I’m not going to be able to give her her combined birthday and Christmas present until we meet in Singapore (I won’t trust it to the mail), and I’m not sure if my postcard (on which I stupidly forgot to say “happy birthday”) will reach her in time.

So for now, this is for B – my only sister, and sole sibling.

I wonder if you know how often I think of you. Just the other day, in Harrods of all places, I remembered standing in Macy’s in New York and finding the letter-B brooch I gave you for your birthday in ‘98. I keep tripping over those little memories of you, or to do with you. Not surprising, given I’ve known you longer than anyone except the parents.

I think you’d also have trouble grasping just how proud I am of everything you’ve achieved in the last six years. Yours has not always been the easiest of paths, but you’ve cut your losses when you had to, kept focussed on what you want and you’ve made it this far.

Art History is a much more difficult field than mine: like anything people will do for love, not money, there’s a lot more competition for the few places available. You’ve done so amazingly well in your honours year to make such use the opportunity to get interesting work experience, and undertake interesting projects, with great people and institutions. And here’s a big public congratulations on your first contract to do real work for a real museum! Hurrah for you, I say!

You also have so much more confidence and skill with people (even in interviews!) than you sometimes give yourself credit for. You don’t just charm the little old ladies buying floral print cushions you know, it’s everyone.

We’re chalk and cheese, and I always admire about you what I don’t have (night-owl stamina, gregariousness, the ability to dance, a better understanding of what makes certain people tick), but we’re two halves of something as well.

It would be hard to tell you how good you’ve been to me as a sister. Sure, we’ve fought and yelled (occasionally, though, and not very recently). I know we had moments when we were small when I was not particularly great to you (or when I should have stuck up for you and didn’t), but you’ve often been a tower of strength and sensible counsel to me. Yes, I know as the oldest child I’m meant to be the solid, stable one (and I know I’m often boringly stable) – but when I’ve needed it, you’ve always been a loving listener, but one who won’t let me lose perspective.

You are the one person who has known me all their life. You know me uniquely – better, perhaps, than anyone and still love me for it. That’s a small miracle of family life, and by no means something natural or inevitable. It’s a perfect treasure.

At bottom, I know you will always, always be there for me. It’s my absolute bedrock. I can only promise to do the same for you.

With all my love,

Your Brother

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