As I am, as she is / by Christina Rosalie

Went for a run this afternoon, in the late summer heat. 6 miles at about 7.5-8 mph pace the whole time. It was sort of a landmark for me, because I did this run at the beginning of the summer, way back when we first moved here three months ago, and I was terribly winded. Red faced, my heart pounding. I had to stop several times to walk. But today, I could feel the muscles in my legs responding differently. As though my body were saying, you were made to do this. This upright forward motion stuff works for you. I didn't stop once, and I never felt winded.

I feel good running now, after doing it almost every day for three months. Even though my ankle still hurts from an injury earlier in the summer, and I feel my knees, sore, after the end of every run, my mind loves it. Something has fundamentally shifted for me, and I think it has to do with being able to run outside, along water, under sun and the blue dome of sky. Past railroad tracks, factories, sailboats, people. I like getting from point a to point b with the momentum of my own body.

But it also has to do with the fact that for the first time in my life I have the time to focus on this part of myself. I would never have imagined this is where I'd be after having had a baby. Before Bean I could never imagine that my life would TRULY be better with him. Isn't that strange? I was very reluctant about becoming a mother. We weren't planning yet to be parents---because both of us imagined the baggage of responsibility to be so great.

But it isn't like I imagined at all. These moments of closeness and joy and running. And I know I'm lucky. I know it's not like this for everyone, and it is hard for me to share this gratitude, because I don't want it to come across like a slap in the face. But sometimes it comes across this way regardless. Especially for my younger sister, who grew up with a congenital bone disease that has left her, 22 surgeries later, severely limping, with hip dysplasia, sometimes in a wheel chair.

And this has been such a strange thing for me to try and wrap my mind around. The gratitude I feel for my life, juxtaposed by the bitterness she sometimes says she feels, seeing my life. I carried her, when we were kids, all over the place, piggy back. I felt responsible for her. Protective. Angry that she couldn't escape the encumbrance of her disability. Angry that things weren't the same for her as they were for me.

Now we're both adults, and we're extremely different. Growing up in a family that never played together, we didn't learn how to take things lightly, to laugh, to have a sense of humor. Instead we were nurtured in a culture of competition. Always, it seemed, our mother was indirectly comparing us, out of some misguided effort to get us to see each other's strengths. Instead, we ended up seeing our weaknesses and feeling small because of them.

I haven't felt competitively towards my siblings for years; since we were kids, really. As an adult, I really am only competitive with myself. I love breaking my own records: academic, athletic. I don't even know what 'winning' would look like, against the people I love.

Yet somehow, because of the way we were growing up, and because of the huge physical disparity between us, it's hard to be grateful for the ease with which my limbs now move in these sports I love without feeling guilty.

Somehow I want it to be okay for us, to be different. For me to run, to celebrate my running, without making her jealous---without making her hurt or feel small. Our lives, our worlds, everything we know practically, except our memories of childhood, are different. And I want this to be okay. I love her desperately, just as she is. I wouldn't want her to change. I wouldn't want her to be more like me. The way she is: passionate, impulsive, stubborn, disabled, artistic, is perfect.