June 27, 2019

8 Siblings. 4 Time Zones. One WhatsApp Group.

“I have one brother and half a dozen sisters, which meant a childhood of battling it out for the top bunk, sharing every pork chop, and once, breathing into a paper bag, having found myself alone in the car with my parents’ undivided attention for the first time. Most important, it means I now possess an army of best friends seven strong.

But the last time we all lived in the same place was in 1996, the year my older sister left Ireland for college in England. Now I live in New York, thousands of miles away from them all. Leaving was my decision, and it’s proven to be one of those choices that are largely wonderful, but that also comes with a downside I was not emotionally prepared for, like getting a dog and quickly realizing that means carrying bags of hot poop around the city for blocks at a time.

So you can imagine how absolutely crazy it makes me feel to live thousands of miles away from them, by choice. I have my lucky American life but my family, my best friends, are not here. I have to figure out how, in that hateful expression, to stay in touch.

The closeness I have with them wasn’t always so clear to me. As small girls, four of us shared a room. My older sister, born three years before I was, learned how to spell first, a skill I was insanely jealous of. “G.O.T.O.S.L.E.E.P” she would hiss when I wouldn’t stop talking at night time, and I’d beg her to tell me what it meant. “Go to sleep,” she’d say, and I’d promise to go to sleep if she’d just tell me what she had spelled.”

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