“You had the left side and I had the right
With a line down the middle so we wouldn’t fight
Two sisters sharing a room
With desk in the middle of two twin beds”
—Terri Hendrix, “The Sister’s Song”
(Performed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAuLhGHgQoY)
Here is one of my earliest memories: I woke up early in the morning (yes, even as a toddler I was a “morning person”). I was between two and three years old, and I wanted to wake my little sister. We’re not quite two years apart in age, and she was my first and best friend. At that time, we lived in a big house in Germantown, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia. My room was next to my baby sister’s, and my parents’ bedroom was perpendicular to it on the second floor. (My two older siblings had their bedrooms on the third floor.) My mom saw me heading to my sister’s room, and held her fingers to her lips, gesturing to me to be quiet and to get back in my room. I think I went back to my room, but then snuck out a few minutes later to wake my sister so we could play.
After we moved to Dallas when I was three and she was one, my little sister and I shared a room. There was no line down the middle, at least no real line. I’m certain we fought, but we played more. We had some epic evening bed jumping sessions when we were supposed to be sleeping. As children before and after have done, we pretended the space in the middle between our beds was water or quicksand or held some sort of danger, and we had to jump from one bed to the other to escape the danger. Then when my mom came to investigate the noise, we quieted down, only to burst out in giggles after she walked away. We thought we were fooling our parents, but I’m sure now we were not.
We made up games; we made up words, imaginary characters, and songs. We ganged up on our parents and older sister. We shared clothes, friends, and confidences. We were sisters and friends.
When my then-boyfriend, now husband, proposed, my little sister was the first person I told. When she officially “came out,” I was one of the first to know.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I told everyone I didn’t care if I had a boy or a girl. And truly, I’m certain I would have loved and adored a son, but secretly, I did hope for a girl. And then, when I was pregnant for a second time, again I secretly hoped for another daughter because I hoped they would be friends the way my younger sister and I had been. They were, and they are.
My little sister’s birthday is in a few days—on Election Day here in the US. So here are early Happy Birthday wishes to you, my amazing and wonderful sister. I love you. We don’t see each other enough because of our driving phobias, but I think of you often. Good luck with your election—and if I lived in your district, I would vote for you, maybe more than once. (Joking!)
This is the birthday cake known as THE Cake in our family. It is easy to prepare and easy to transport to gatherings. It does not require icing, but a scoop of ice cream is nice. My perfect choice would be coffee. Over the years, I’ve adapted the recipe, so there is more chocolate than in the original recipe. Really, can you ever have too much chocolate?
The Chocolate Cake
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 cups brewed coffee, cooled
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup cocoa (Plus extra for dusting the pan)
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp. baking soda
Chocolate chips (I use Ghiardelli bittersweet—about 1 cup more or less)
Confectioner’s sugar for top, if desired
Grease and flour 13 x 9 pan. I use cocoa instead of flour.
Place all ingredients, except chocolate chips, in a large mixing bowl. With mixer at low speed, beat until well blended. Add chocolate chips—approximately half a bag. They will sink to the bottom. Pour batter into pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Leave the cake in the pan. When cooled, you can top it with confectioner’s sugar (add chopped or shaved chocolate to it for a special touch.)