But Jana did not love me until around 1997, when I was 14. This happened to be the age that I stopped going through her stuff and following her around incessantly begging for affection and for her to feather my bangs.
She is 7 years older than me, and 6 years older than my brother. Therefore, we worshipped her and she wanted us to get eaten by a bear.
My brother Matthew and I shared a room until the fact that our genitals were different made that situation unsuitable. My parents then uprooted me from where I was wanted and replanted me where I was most certainly not. My sister was 15 and hot. I was 8 and had a piercingly-loud voice, which I used for talking in large volumes, but also for singing showtunes and crying. The small room we shared had two beds, one dog that liked her more than me, a poster of a white kitten, and an abundance of hostility.
I went through different stages, each one more intolerable than the next. After watching "Rescue 911", I was CONVINCED our fire alarm was going off and I was going to be a smoking pile of ashes and crooked teeth. I was convinced of this EVERY SINGLE NIGHT for the better part of a year. I would wake up in a state of awkward hysteria, screaming at everyone to get out of the damn house. Actually, I don't know if I was at all concerned with my family's safety. I think in reality I would wake up and scream on my way out the door in fear of my own perishing. My parents finally figured out it was the air-conditioner whirring and clicking when it turned on, and they had someone fix it so they and my siblings could get more than 35 minutes of sleep at a time. I think they also started giving me lethal amounts of benadryl.
I (am) was also a slob, and Jana was perfect. I was perfectly happy with sleeping amongst a pile of unwashed clothes and popsicle sticks covered in ants, but she wanted everything pristine. This confused my brain and this confusion in-turn caused me to morph into an evil must-have-mess gremlin. I would frequently throw my trash or wipe my nose on her side of the room, then study her reaction trying to understand her mutant-teenage ways. One day, when I thought I had finally come to understand her, I took action in forcing a de-escalation. While she was gone with her 37 year old boyfriend, I cleaned the entire room, including her side. I used windex to clean her wooden bookshelf and sprayed glade cinnamon air freshener all over her sheets. I cleaned off her mirror with her sun-ripened-raspberry lotion, and I even put a teddy bear I had bought at a garage sale that morning on her newly-made/cinammonly wet bed. I sat and waited for her to get home, knowing this would be the act that turned us into best friends. I imagined sitting at a New Kids on the Block concert with her and her cool friends, all of them high-fiving her for having such a magnanimous little sister.
When she got home I grabbed her hand and tried to drag her to our room. She then had to wash her hands because I had had something sticky on mine, but after that we walked into our room and....
She immediately kicked me in the face and told me to NEVER go on her side of the room again. I asked her to please be reasonable and at least smell her sheets before making such a rash demand, but she had already thrown the smelly flea-ridden teddy bear in my face and turned off the Collin Raye tape I had playing for ambiance. We went to bed that night not speaking to each other.
I laid there, in the dark, thinking about witches. "....Witches are fucking scary. I wonder if there are witches in here. Witches want my brain, I think. There's totally an ugly manly witch in my closet right now. I can't see anything, but I know there's witches everywhere in here....." I stand up and walk to the door and open it about 6 inches, so light floods my bed. I crawl back into bed, safe from witches and almost asleep when I hear.....
SLAM. Jana has slammed the door shut and gotten back into bed.
"But.....but....but.....but....there's brain-eating witches in here, Jana!"
"Like I'm going to sleep with the door open. Psssshhaawww."
I wait until I hear her sleeping and I creep out of bed again. This time I open the door the tiniest amount that a door has ever been opened. I can now see that there aren't any wart-faced spell-casters surrounding my Aladdin bed and I drift off to sleep when...
SLAM. Jana slammed the door shut again.
"Please, Jana. Just a crack. Please. You got the pretty hair, the thin legs, and the fast metabolism, just give me a crack!"
"MARY. I have to win scholastic awards and have naturally pretty teeth tomorrow. You're keeping me awake and I am going to pulverize your neck if you don't stop."
"cry....sob.....heave.....snot....melo-dramatic statement 'everyone hates me' or 'I just want death!'....cry cry cry"
"NO CRACK. NO CRACK FOR YOU. JANA NEED SLEEP. ROOOAAAARRRRR"
"Mom, can you please tell Jana to open the door just a little so I don't get boiled in a cauldron? Please?"
"MARY GO TO SLEEP THIS IS THE 13TH TIME YOU'VE WOKEN YOUR FATHER AND I UP AND WE CAN'T WAIT UNTIL CATHOLIC CAMP WEEKS COMES AROUND HERE'S SOME BENADRYL AND A CAREBEAR ROOOOOAAAAAAARRR"
I laid there all night crying and feeling sorry for myself. Occasionally, I would get on my hands and knees and call to my ex roommate brother through the air-conditioner vents. He promised if they ever let us share a room again we could build a mickey mouse and snow cone circus tent full of floodlights. I was about to be comforted and able to close my eyes when my Dad, awoken again, screamed through his air-conditioner vent.... "GO TO BED ROOOAAAAARRRRR"