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Tuesday, December 19, 2006


I don’t have a sister.

I have three younger brothers.

And Glen, who is like a big brother to me. You’ve met him.

And Stacey, who is like a younger sister to me. You haven’t met her yet.

Stacey and I have known each other for exactly 11 years and 4 months. We were in the same year of our journalism program (the “four-year BJ”) at a small school in Halifax. We lived on the same floor of our small residence for two years. After we graduated, we moved to the same small town in the Canadian Arctic to work in the same small newsroom. At times, we’ve lived together. She is the closest thing I have to a sister.

Stacey’s a woman of extremes. You never have to wonder what she’s thinking. When she’s happy, she’s giddy and bursting with energy. When she’s sad, she’s in tears. In fact, she’s a lot like me.

She moved north soon after graduation, while I stayed on the east coast. When I got an interview for the position in her newsroom, she helped me prepare. They had asked her geography questions, she said. Like What’s the name of the river that runs past I**vik? I pulled out my Canadian map and turned to the very last page. That was when it really hit me that Canada is HUGE. Most people only look at the bottom quarter of the country. I looked from the bottom right corner to the top left corner, and wondered if I could ever really make a move like that.

Stacey was the one who reassured me that everything would be OK. We ran through geography questions, and I wrote the phonetic spelling of “Tsiig*htchic” on my map in case they asked: “Sig-a-chick”. Of course, they didn’t ask about Tsiig*htchic. They asked how I would deal with the complete lack of light in the winter and the complete lack of darkness in the summer. To this day, I don’t think there is an answer to this question, and certainly not one that a person who has never lived in the north could give with any degree of certainty. You don’t know how you’ll deal with it until you get here. Then you find a way of dealing with it, or you leave. Stacey would go swimming at midnight in June. I would cover the windows with tinfoil to darken the room so I could sleep.

I have never felt sisterly toward anyone else who wasn’t related to me by blood. This relationship is a complicated one. It’s not like being best friends. It’s more like being so close to another person that you could never really break away, even if you wanted to. Sisters aren’t always best friends. There’s a lot of baggage that goes along with it. She thinks that I can be judgmental. I think that she can be irresponsible. I check out her boyfriends to make sure that they are good enough for her – they almost never meet my standards. She’s irritated that I would set standards in the first place. I worry that she’s not doing well. She says she’s fine, thank you, and there’s no need for me to worry.

My son calls her “Aunt Stacey”. When I found out that I was pregnant, she was the first person I called. Michael adores her and loves one of her cats unconditionally. Her other cat is his scapegoat for everything that goes wrong in our house:

“Who messed up this room?”
“I think Trout did it.”

“Why is the fridge door left open?”
“I TOLD Trout not to steal any Coke! What a bad cat!”

[Updated: I was popping up on a search engine because there was a community name in this post. I've added some asterisks so I don't show up on the search engine.]


Anonymous said...

You are like my sister, too. The baggage isn't too heavy and you'd better never break away. That would certainly bring on the tears.

Love you and your judgement,
"Aunt" Stacey

Anonymous said...

And don't you dare e-mail to tell me judgment is not spelled correctly!

Stace xo