on big sisters and temporary homelessness

i have been the “big sister” since i was 2 1/2 when my sis, Lauren, was born.  it is a role i’ve taken to extremes sometimes, but one i’ve definitely filled to the edges.  i’ve even found that i play out in my peer relationships. it’s what i do and so much of who i am, that i often lack having older “siblings” to look after me.

the last season saw a surgence of big brothers.  between the guys in the training school and my boys in the house, i felt loved and looked after in a way that only brothers can.

this season, it’s big sisters.

on Thanksgiving, i got to spend the day with one such sister, a friend i’ve had since 2nd grade.  she knows me well, knows where i’ve been, who i’ve been and who i am and who i hope to be.  she is just a year older than me, but has always been very protective. she is married with 2 sweet girls and something about her life feels very stable to me.  i got there and was able to snuggle with her girls, take naps and watch Disney movies.  she let me just be.  she fed me, prepared a bed for me.  even gave me gas money.  like a big sister, she made sure i had what i needed.

last night, while dancing, i had my jacket stolen with my house key inside.  enter big sister #2, a fairly recent friend who happens to be a “McNabb”, (tho completely unrelated).  she took me to her house and let me sleep on her couch.  this morning, she put together an outfit from her closet, fed me oatmeal and took me to church.  it was what any big sister would do.

without a key, and without a roommate who was visiting family in Michigan, i was temporarily homeless.  i had to acknowledge the uniqueness of our community when people began to ask “Where will you go?”  i had other questions come to mind, like “What will i do about my contacts?” or “What will i wear?” (you don’t exactly wear a lot of clothing when you go dancing), but the “where” question never came to mind.  that was an automatic; i would go to the Big House, my old house, where my friend-family lives.

i had a friend drop me off there, my dress, earrings, and credit card in hand, and i settled in on the couch.  they proceeded to feed me and watch football with me.  still, it was incredibly strange to be “homeless” for 24-hours.  i don’t have much, but still, everything i owned was in that house.  i didn’t even have socks.  by the end of the day, everything i was wearing belonged to someone else and i was carrying my things home in a Whole Foods bag.

i think, what most strikes me, is just how important it is for each of us to fill the gaps in each other’s lives.  to be moms, and dads, and big brothers and sisters, and friends, and lovers, and family, wherever the need seems to fit.  i have to laugh at a God who would put me in such a situation to be reminded of this.  i have a tendency toward isolation and self-sufficiency/dependency, especially when i’m feeling like i’ve been lately.  but you can’t be self-sufficient when you’re homeless…

i think Kurt Vonnegut says it best…
“What should young people do with their lives today?  Many things, obviously.  But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.” 


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