Never will I forget my ACT score. It is burned into my memory forever. Not necessarily because it was a good score, but because of who else got that same magic number as me.
I am a middle child. I have a brother older by one year, a younger sister by four. My sister was like my mascot (growing up), but my brother and I were neck in neck for leadership. He once told me that he thought I was older until he went to kindergarten. That's how bossy I was, even then.
Growing up, whenever something needed to be taken care of in my mother's absence, it was assigned to me. In many ways that made me proud, but also I resented my brother for his freedom from responsibility. I can clearly remember being six, my mother having to go to the hospital for a couple of days to get her gall bladder removed, when I was put in charge of cleaning the fishbowl. There were no jobs imparted to my brother, just to me. This chore of course involved the very complicated maneuver of running fresh water into the fishbowl and letting the old water spill out of the top. As I started to do this, I felt badly for poor Swim and Swam (hey, I was six, what names did you expect?) because the water was so cold. So I turned on the hot water. Hot water and goldfish do not mix.
We gave Swim and Swam a proper funeral burial, and I cried and cried for what I had done. I so dreaded telling my mother how I had failed, what I had done. On the other hand, I considered that if my brother, with his infinite extra year of wisdom had taken care of this duty, would their deaths have been avoided? I don't know - but for years I was upset that it was me who had been left in charge. Obviously, as I'm 33 and still telling this story.
It was never made clear to me how strong of a sibling rivalry I felt toward my brother was - at least until I took my ACT. I can remember the day that I got my results very clearly. Opening the envelope, nervous, excited, and curious. Scanning, reading, interpreting. I got a 30! I started jumping up and down and screaming. And then I realized why I was so excited, exactly what thought was running through my head. That I was as smart as my brother, who had gotten a 30 the previous year - he did not beat me.
I halted mid-jump. Did I really care that much? How could I care? My parents by no means ever compared us to each other. They never pulled the why can't you be like games. We had both gotten good scores in school all of our lives, done well for ourselves.
It is a mystery that although I can't understand, still exists. The paths our lives are so different, our successes as diverse as they come. My brother is married with three wonderful children. He owns a home, has a terrific group of friends and a strong religious support network. I have moved to New York, live the "glamorous" professional single life, having worked my way up to a position of responsibility for a major publisher. My brother super family man, me super sassy girl.
My mother informed me yesterday that my brother got a new job, involving a base salary bump and an increased commission rate. Even as I am happy for him, I can feel that evil green monster wondering if he is making more than me now...
Ah, sibling rivalry.
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