The other night, Jenna and I had what I’d like to call a ‘date night.’
It started innocently enough. I was eating breakfast on Wednesday when I got a text message from her. I kind of really want to see Ramona and Beezus, it read. I laughed and texted back Um, I kind of really want to see it too. Want to go?
Now, my sister has the summer off, but she has a ton of things to do in order to prepare for the arrival of Baby Stigliano, nicknamed by our family as The Christ Child because of all the hoopla Jenna gets when we go out as a family. I thought our movie plan would be one of those attempts to hang out that ends up going pear-shaped and never happening. We meant to see Shrek Forever After but life got in the way, and when we finally got around to making time for it, the theater had pulled it in favor of Eclipse. A horrible decision. But anyway, I figured it wouldn’t be happening.
Imagine my surprise to find us traipsing to the movie theatre on Friday for the 7:30 showing of Beezus and Ramona.
Growing up, I was slightly obsessed with the Ramona books (as well as the Anastasia Krupnik series by Lois Lowry). A middle child with hair that never behaved and an overactive imagination, Ramona was a slightly more pixie variation of me, complete with a sister who put up with her shenanigans, but definitely possessed a breaking point. I was really hoping they’d put in every story I loved from the books (the hole in the house, Ramona cracking the egg on her head, the crown of burrs, the death of Picky-Picky, Uncle Hobart and Aunt Bea). And lo and behold, they were all there! I was thrilled.
I wasn’t expecting to be so moved by the film, but halfway through it, Jenna looked over at me snuffling away and murmured “Um, are you okay?” I was fine. The film was absolutely adorable, but some of the parts coming to life in front of me hit so close to home.
Ramona tries so hard to please everyone. She wants everyone to be happy. She wants to have her imagination, of course; what is Ramona Quimby without that amazingly overactive brain? But every time she failed, you could see it in her eyes. That “oh, please don’t think less of me, I’m trying as hard as I can” look. I know that look. I wore it for most of 2009, and a good chunk of this winter.
I am a big people-pleaser, or at least I try to be. When I feel like I’ve let someone down, it hurts on a cellular level. A big reason why I put off moving back home by two months last year was because of the reason I told my mother. “If I come home, I’ll be a failure.” To who, I didn’t know. A failure to the world, maybe?
I also think I cried because I started getting flashbacks of my life after I told everyone I was moving home. All of my friends texting me, telling me they were so proud of me, that they missed me terribly, that they couldn’t wait for me to come home. My best friend practically tackling me when she saw me for the first time after I moved home. My local grocery store owner (a friend of the family) telling me, “For the past month, your sister has been coming in here talking about how excited she is you’re moving home. She missed you so much.”
That, I think, is what really did me in. What had me digging into my bag for a Kleenex amidst my gum wrappers and sneaked-in Ziplock of chocolate (yes, I sneak food into the movie theater. Don’t we all?!). It was the idea of having an older sister who can be a little frustrated with you sometimes, to the point where she’ll throw up her hands and shriek “Come ON!”, but at the end of the day she tells grocery store cashiers she misses you.
After the film on the drive home (she liked it too!) we debated who’s the craziest female chef on the Food Network. After discussing Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa, with her neverending parade of gay decorators and constant awkward laughing) and Anne Burrell (the Secrets of a Restaurant Chef host who looks like she stuck her entire head in a light socket and growls while she cooks), we both agreed that the nuttiest nutbag of them all was Alex Guarnaschelli. The woman has a pornographic relationship with food. My favorite line of all time from her is “A good cookbook is a barracuda dressed in shrimp clothing.” You don’t say things like that if you haven’t smoked a good deal of wacky tobacky in your life.
Then yesterday, we went swimming, and I made fun of Jenna’s bold attempts to kickboard.
I think anyone who doesn’t have a sister is missing out on a beautiful relationship. Over the past year, Jenna has had to put up with so much of my crap, what with my eating disorder and anxiety and talking way, way too much. And she bears all of it with good advice and a swift verbal face-smack when I need it. She inspires me to be better, not only for her, but for the little boy in her tummy.
In short, seeing the film about a little girl and her sister reminded me of, well, me. A woman with a sister I drive bonkers. I wouldn’t change a thing. And I think, secretly, she wouldn’t either.
In closing, Jenna…I’M THE TALLEST WOMAN IN FRANCE. GO SLOP THE GOATS.
PS. Go see Inception. Right now. I’m not joking around.