Tabitha is tall, at least five feet eight inches. I am short, with hair product, five feet three inches. Her skin is like porcelain. Mine like the surface of a pineapple. She takes after our mother with milk-white skin. My complexion leans more toward a combination of both parents with our father having olive complexion. Her hair is naturally curly although she goes to great expense to straighten it. Mine is poker straight. As a teenager I tried to get a perm and the hairdresser said, “Your hair really doesn’t hold a curl.”
I go to church almost every Sunday. I am an usher, a communion-server and sit on the social justice pathway at Epworth United Methodist Church. She carries rocks in her pockets – each one signifying whatever energy she will need to protect her or get her through the day. A Christian in terms of religion she never goes to church except for funerals and baptisms. Several years ago she had a terrible car accident in Maryland in which she was thrown from her SUV into the road. Her car rolled over four times but missed her. Remarkably she escaped unscathed. She felt blessed having been spared from serious injury and death and she planned on getting back to church. Nevertheless she avoids mass and belongs to the religion of “rocks in pockets.”
I buy into the Eckhart Tolle philosophy of the “Power of Now.” She watches “The Secret” DVD almost every day buying into the power of positive thinking and the laws of attraction. After the major blow up that fractured our family two Christmases ago, I told her I always feared that it would happen, that whenever we spent time with our nieces I knew that time was precious. It was a matter of time before our other sister, Nicole, snapped and we would never get to see her or her kids again. Tabitha’s response was that I caused the blow up to happen by always thinking it would.
I like football and am a huge Philadelphia Eagles fan. She could care less about sports and doesn’t even know when the Philly teams make it to the playoffs. I like the challenge of strategy games such as chess. She prefers to play “office politics.” One evening we sat around the kitchen table eating Chinese take out from cardboard containers. She explained to me how she planned to get revenge on a coworker who had stolen one of her accounts after the accident. She plotted to pit one Judas against another.
After the accident, she came to live with me. Because we are both fascinated with ghosts and the supernatural, we’d spend Wednesday evenings watching “Ghost Hunters.” We’d sit on the floor with the lights out wrapped in fleece blankets jumping every time we heard the slightest noise. I don’t think anything ever really scares her.
Both of us have the potential to procrastinate but she is chronic. Mostly I would rather get things done. When writing “thank you” cards, I will push to the outer limit of what is socially acceptable before cranking them out. Four years ago she leased a Camry for my mom and dad. As the end of the lease approached, I kept reminding her to refinance it so our parents could keep the car. She got defensive about my nagging and suggested I take care of it. After several phone calls I discovered she had not made a payment in six months. The car was about to be repossessed. There I was calling and pretending to be her. How was I to explain that I didn’t know I hadn’t made a payment in six months? We were forced to return the car to the sales lot under the cover of night for fear of criminal charges.
We are both fiercely loyal. Family is important to us. She makes sacrifices for the good of others even when she is being taken advantage of. For several years, Nicole and her husband had Tabitha watch their dog for two weeks each summer while they vacationed in Canada. It wasn’t enough to check in twice a day, they insisted she live in their house. “The dog gets lonely,” they’d say. “He’ll chew things up and wet on the rug.” This was a great inconvenience to her since they lived in Pennsylvania and Tabitha lived and worked in Delaware. They felt since she was single and childless, she had nothing better to do. A black lab-pit bull mix, the dog was strong and unpredictable. The logic of placing him in a kennel, hiring a professional dog sitter or asking the neighbors to check in escaped them. For several years Tabitha told them she wasn’t going to do it again. Each year they would guilt her into it. One year they told her Nicole wasn’t going to go on the trip because they had no one to watch the dog. My brother-in-law’s family had never missed a summer since his childhood but they couldn’t put the dog in a kennel. It was cruel. It was expensive. No kennel would take the dog as he wasn’t up-to-date with his shots. He was too old. Every year was a different excuse. So rather than kennel the dog, our three nieces would miss family vacation with their mother. Thankfully, Tabitha finally put her foot down two years ago. <Consider chopping this paragraph.>
She possesses a positive outlook almost all the time. I am positive much of the time. We both try to make sense of events in our lives. When she lost her job, or when I was transferred teaching the sixth grade, we ask ourselves what is the lesson to be learned? What is the right path to take? Resist the change? Roll with it? We both work on self-improvement constantly. Each of us carries a list of short and long-term goals:
- Lose fifty pounds (both of us)
- Drink eight glasses of water per day
- eat five servings of fruits and vegetables per day
- exercise at least three times per week.
- Join a drum circle (me)
- Try drumming during a Women’s weekend workshop
- buy a djembe
- research a local drum circle
- Improve fluency at speaking a foreign language (for me – Spanish; for her – French.)
- Buy Rosetta Stone.
- Be a better listener (both of us)
- Lose fifty pounds (both of us)
She is a massage therapist making her living by manipulating people’s bodies. I am a sixth grade teacher making my living by manipulating children’s minds. She lives life flying by the seat of her pants. I plan everything. Countless Post-It notes dictate my every move: plan summer vacation, clean out closets, pick up dry cleaning, breathe in, breathe out. She owns little. The house she lives in has come up for sheriff sale several times. Each time the sale is miraculously postponed. I have a mortgage that is five times what my apartment rent was. I live in constant fear of losing the house should something happen. She made $9,000 last year but lives in fear of nothing. She believes it will all work out. Little owns her. Everything owns me.
She has the freedom of her soul that I just don’t.