A Sister’s Life


This is I, taking a break from being All of the Above All the Time; this is I in its purest version. This is I—of course, always with the daughter-, sister-, friend-, student-, German-, blond- and blue-eyed-, and privileged-in-all-ways-possible-responsibilities, but without the according actions—for now. While I am folding laundry, it is just I: an honest, vital, passionate, enthusiastic young woman, looking to take a break from trying too hard to be All of the Above.

It could have been last Saturday or the one before that. It could have been that summery Saturday three years ago in June 2007. It could have been next Saturday or the one after that, but instead, it is today—on the 21st day of the summer and fall month September. It is that reappearing moment again: five o’clock on Saturday afternoon. Here they are again, the minutes that decorate every Saturday afternoon of mine and during which my busy world stops moving—no matter if summer, fall, winter or spring. However, my sister’s call today makes this specific Saturday. It is the first Saturday after her breakup, and it feels good to talk with her.

I am not at home; I am not where I belong. I am 5000 miles away from that place that I have first called home. Yet, I am here, in this new place, where I cannot wait to settle and make myself a new home. This is America. This is its capital, Washington. This Georgetown University, Village C East, room number 761. This is the floor framed by my bed, my roommate’s bed, and our work desks. This is the stage that gravity does not get to act on. This is the grooved carpet where nothing can fall down and break. This is the where life is good.

I am alone in the room, surrounded by ocher-colored furniture: two identical work desks under the two windows, two identical wardrobes by the door, and two identical beds, framing the bathroom door. Colorful pairs of shoes hide under both beds. The carpet is vacuumed and clean: it is Saturday, cleaning day. The wastebaskets stand side-by-side, empty like childless kangaroos. The white walls are decorated with colorful flower buds, which my roommate and I cut out last week. Black and white sketches are imbedded in the summery, evergreen meadow.

Yesterday was busy. The day before yesterday was busy. Today and tomorrow are not busy. No lectures, computer screens, writing, pens, paper, meals, faces, voices, noises—not tomorrow, and not now either. The Now, this one moment of routinely measuring the Nothing, is isolated from the whirl of mindless business. The Now is still, lonely, except for my sister’s phone call that disrupts the quiet, because life never ends, does it. My very special sister’s voice makes me joyful in the midst of this arranged silence.

One sleeve, then the other. Then the bottom of the shirt, which I then flip over so I can get lost in the wrinkleless fabric. One sleeve, then the other. Then the bottom of the shirt. I am calm; this makes me calm. Folding laundry—piece by piece—organizes my wardrobe, my hand gestures, my thoughts, my breathing, and my life. Sitting on the floor stretches my legs and straightens my back: I am one piece, organizing little pieces so they can be one big beautiful piece—one pile. Talking on the sister energized my calm body with a very familiar prickle. Even though she is devastated, I find vitality in our conversation: she is my sister, my dear sister.

This is college, and every morning when I wake up, I cannot but jump up and down of joy—I guess its one way of finding one’s place in the family of things. This short chapter of life is only a small part of the journey. Literally, as well—yes—because I stepped on a plane to get to this place—my new home—, but more so figuratively, as this chapter of my life lets me define myself with new terms, new phrases, new attributes. Playing into this are my personal and very amazing circumstances: I am eighteen years old, far away from home but supported by the best family of all times, I am studying what I love, feeling amazing, and folding laundry—sorting out the last wrinkles in my life. Can it get any better?

It could have been so easy, so peaceful; it could have all gone according to the plan. But then there were the wrinkles and the phone call; both are disruptions to my traditional routine that were not planned but happen anyways. With the help of the palms of my hands, I am firmly trying to straighten out the inconvenience and make them line up, the wrinkles—they give up eventually under the pressure. The phone call is a disruption too, but then I recognize the voice and everything falls into place. She is allowed to surprise me and get me out of my perfect arrangement. She can, and she does.

I am focused, very focused. I fold. I refold, I smooth out the last uneven spots. My hand movements are concise and accurate. I fold laundry in order to get a little closer to organizing my life. I work fast and efficiently; I do not look up or get distracted, except for when the phone starts to ring unexpectedly. Then, I get up and am guided towards the window in order to get out of my cocoon—time for some fresh air and another dimension!