For my little sister, Karen.

An hour ago, I saw you cry. You were sitting right in front of me as you cried because of me, because you cried for me.

You said it was so unfair that I’m unhappy where I am and that I couldn’t do anything about it because of reasons that will stay between just the two of us. You said I wasn’t being treated the way I’m supposed to be treated, that I deserve more than what I’m being given, and that I’m too damn nice to say anything about it.

So you cried. You were hurting for me. You were angry for me.

And then I hugged you, and you hugged me back.

I wanted to tell you this, but I couldn’t find the courage to do so. So I’m writing it here.

I’m sorry. I’m so incredibly sorry.

I’m sorry for choosing to accept the circumstances I’m in. I’m sorry for failing to be the sister who teaches you, by example, to go after your dreams and to fight for what you want.I’m sorry for making you fear the idea of becoming like me when your time to make a decision comes.

Someday, you’ll realize – no matter how much I don’t want you to – that all the fight and determination I’m not exerting now, I’m saving up for you.

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Dad vs. Twin

Since my twin sister moved to California a little over two years ago, her relationship with my dad slowly but surely deteriorated. She’s chasing after her dream, but while she’s doing it, she’s leaving my dad with broken promises and forgotten duties. I don’t want to get into the specifics of their falling out because it really is just one whole complicated web of unspoken feelings and pent up frustrations.

But throughout these two years, I watched how my dad gradually stopped talking to her and how my sister subsequently stopped trying to talk to him, all the while feeling this weight on my shoulder getting heavier and heavier.

Before I visited my sister this past summer, my mom told me to talk to her and convince her to see things from my dad’s perspective. And I did that. I talked to her. But after that, she asked me if I could talk to my dad after I got home and help him see things from her perspective. My mom asked me to do the same thing also. And I did that too.

Last week, I was finally able to talk to him. This is exactly how it started.

Me: Dad, I want to talk to you about something.
Dad: What is it, sweetheart?
Me: You have to promise me that you won’t get mad.
Dad: I won’t get mad.
Me: Do you promise?
Dad: I promise.
Me: It’s about Ach.
Dad *rolls eyes and exhales loudly*
Me: You promised you won’t get mad.
Dad: I’m not mad. What about her?

He kept his promise. He didn’t get mad. But he broke my heart a bit when he kept on saying he didn’t care about what my sister did/is doing/will do with her life.

At the same time though, I understand where he’s coming from. He wants what’s best for his daughter, and I get that it’s frustrating that his daughter refuses his ideas and opinions. I know he doesn’t mean what he said and that his words came from a place of hurt.

And my sister, she’s had moments here and there that infuriated me, that made me think that maybe she’s completely forgotten that she’s still my parents’ daughter and our sister.

But I can’t hide the fact that she’s been doing amazingly well with planning and thinking ahead when it comes to her future. I’ve never seen her more responsible, independent and confident than the two months I spent with her a couple of months ago.

So what do I have? A father who is angry because he’s hurting, and a sister who’s slowly turning into a stranger because she’s making her dreams come true.

I just… I’m not asking for advice or tips or whatever. I know it’s not my place, nor is it my responsibility, to try and fix their relationship.

It’s just that my sister’s coming home in less than 24 hours, and I don’t want her and my dad spending the Christmas season avoiding, ignoring or fighting each other.

My twin sister is in love

She doesn’t know it yet. But I do.

Three days after I arrived here in California, Kat, my twin sister, brought me to her Bible study and introduced me to her group of friends. I went not knowing anything about any of them, and I left feeling something was brewing between Kat and one of the guys there named Adam.

It was the way their gaze always fell to the other when they talked. There was something in the way they looked at one another, like with a smile in their eyes.

Since then, I’ve seen Adam three more times and in those three times, I was left feeling more and more confident that these two not only like each other but also would be so insanely and unbelievably great for each other.

Initially, I resolved to keep my thoughts and observations to myself for a number of reasons. One, I didn’t want her to start feeling self-conscious whenever I’m with them. Two, Kat is the type of person who doesn’t talk about feelings and wouldn’t appreciate it if you force her to. And three, I wasn’t even sure if she herself knows she likes him.

Until five days ago.

She went go-karting with her Bible study group while I was at our cousins’ place. When we all met up for lunch the next day, we found out that she and Adam spent hours just talking at the parking lot of K1…until two in the freaking morning! According to her, they genuinely lost track of time. And we believe her, which is why the floodgates of unrelenting teasing and persistent questioning have been thrown wide open.

Yesterday, she finally admitted to liking him. “But just like,” she said. That I don’t believe.

She’s in love. I see it in the way she tries desperately to not talk about him, in the way she just lights up whenever she ends up talking about him anyway. I see it when they talk and she discovers they have another bizarre thing in common. I see it in the things that might be too little to be noticed by anyone else.

I can also see that she’s a bit terrified. I’m not sure what she’s more scared of – that he might not like her back or that he might actually do. And from what I’ve seen so far, I’m pretty sure it’s the latter. And not to brag or anything but I have correctly predicted my ex-boyfriend’s present girlfriend so I’ve proven that my gut feeling can be right.

I’m just genuinely excited for her. After years of focusing completely on her studies and career, she so deserves the butterflies in her stomach, the late night parking lot conversations and a chance at having a guy who is really good for her heart.

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My aunt, uncle and I interrogating her. Seriously.

There’s nothing more complicated than family

For a number of reasons:

First, we don’t get to choose our family so the chances of us ending up with people we won’t get along with are high.

Second, we can meet literally hundreds and thousands of people throughout our life but it will never change the fact that we will never meet anyone more different from us than family members, whether it be a crazy uncle, a weird cousin or an annoying sibling.

Third, no matter how many reunions we skip, we can never truly escape from said crazy uncle, weird cousin and annoying sibling.

Fourth, we know blood is thicker than water but no one ever tells us what the guidelines are when it’s blood against blood.

Fifth, we love them while we hate them, and we don’t know which one to base our actions on first.

Sixth, no matter how much we hate them, at the end of the day we love them so much that we don’t want them to hate us, so we end up doing something we hate to keep them happy.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is this supposedly wonderful and exciting vacation of mine is turning out to be extremely complicated. And I just want to rent a car, drive to the Grand Canyon, take a breath and scream out all the frustrations I have with this family I love so damn much.

Family Talks

My parents called my brother, Karen and I for a family meeting yesterday because they wanted to discuss something with us. The discussion turned out to be one of the longest talks we’ve ever had as a family. We started at ten in the evening and finished at two in the morning.

Throughout the whole thing, the one thought that kept replaying in my head was, “This… This is growing up and getting old, this is family and life and death all rolled into one conversation.”

Once we were all settled in, my dad began telling us his ideas for dividing properties among us and upgrading life insurances. He enumerated the possible scenarios that could happen and what he wants us to do about them. That’s the first time I had to view the inevitability of my parents’ death seriously. Even with my grandparents who are already in their nineties, I’ve rarely allowed such a thought to cross my mind, let alone with my parents who are still in their early sixties. But there was no way around death last night.

Because after we discussed inheritances and all that, we talked about my grandparents and how we need to bring the entire family together before it’s too late for them. Karen and I brought it up. We’ve been talking about this with each other for some time now and we felt that last night was the perfect time to share it with the rest. Our family makes it a point to come together on my grandparents’ birthdays – my grandfather’s in August and my grandmother’s in January. But we’ve never been complete. There’s always been a family or two missing. And Karen and I feel it’s time to change that. We’ve both been feeling this urgency to have a complete family reunion as soon as possible because our grandmother isn’t getting any stronger. Every night, she and my grandfather both pray for the whole family, naming each of us one by one. Every night. The least we could do is get together and show them they raised a family that knows how to be one.

Then my mother brought up marriage and we laughed. My brother’s beein going on a couple of dates recently but so far none of them are serious, my twin sister is in California with her eyes set on grad school and nothing else, Karen is enjoying her single life and I’m determined to do everything I can do while I can still do them. None of us are in a serious relationship and none of us are actively looking to be in one, so marriage isn’t necessarily something we think about with earnestness. But my mom persisted. “Pray for your future spouse and in laws and children,” she said. We were all nodding our heads to appease her. I think we wanted each other to think we weren’t taking her words seriously, but I think we all did toward the end. We aren’t desperate to get married, but we are desperate to have a good marriage if or when the time comes. When you have grandparents like ours, you realize early on that a good marriage is the best thing that could ever happen to you.

We talked about other things too – my mom’s exaggerated fear that my brother has a drinking problem (he doesn’t), our mutual understanding that my twin sister won’t be leaving California after finishing grad school, our cousin’s impending marriage which we’re all pretty nervous about, my parents’ retirement (soon) and all whole lot of other things that we felt were worth losing sleep over.

My dad concluded the whole thing by saying this, “Whatever happens, do not forget: you children have each other. Look out for each other, love each other and when you all have your own families, know that this family is still here.”

I hadn’t thanked God for my family as much as I did last night.

Thank God for photo albums

I completely forgot they existed. And when I found them, I realized I also completely forgot the little girl I once was. It’s kind of amazing really, when you see the child you once were through the eyes of the adult you’ve become. I can’t describe how it felt trying to reconcile the girl in the photographs to the woman staring back at me in the mirror.

I like to think I still remember how I was as a kid. I like to think I was smart for my age, that I knew how to share my toys and that I didn’t give my parents any trouble. I’d speak when spoken to, always in a polite manner, never forgetting to say please and thank you. I’d never forget to say my prayers at night and before meals.

But the truth is, the things I remember are more made up of pixie dust than real memories. And the truth about that truth is, I kinda like it that way. I like imagining different versions of myself as a kid and I like that I don’t ever really know which version is the correct one. There’s no reason. Just because.

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I was born 90% cheeks, 10% everything else
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Me on the left. Working on our charm.
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Me on the right. With my so not identical twin.
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Off to school… or maybe just the porch.
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We all have that one photo where our front tooth is missing

So thank God for old, dusty photo albums. Thank God for the many versions of my kid self. And most importantly, thank God for my twin sister because it is now proven that when it comes to baby pictures, two is definitely cuter than one.

Valentine’s Day: Why date a guy when you can have a date your sister?

I have the sweetest sister. Sure there are times when she terrifies me with her unexpected and very extreme mood swings, and sure her evil death stare can make anyone’s knees tremble with fear. But on her good days (which outnumber the bad ones), she is the sweetest human being ever. And Valentine’s Day is a good day.

After having dinner with our grandparents, Karen and I decided to go on a dessert date at a Gelato place nearby.

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And then she gave me this…

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As my best friend said, “The romantics department may be lacking at the moment, but I am never not loved.” I am loved by everyone who matters to me and that’s all I could ever ask for.