Seven Milestones You Reach With Your Sister. As Told By Two Sisters
The Debrief: From the first time we saw each other drunk to the first time we walked in on the other having sex – these are the milestones you hit with your sisters.
Gina and I have been sisters our whole lives, and during that time we've hit all the bigtime milestones while slowly becoming excellent pals. From the first time she saw me get drunk (awful), to the first time we had a proper fight and one of us got punched in the face by a Spanish woman, here are the crucial stages we've been through to get to where we are now.
First time we had a cliched teenager argument
Stevie (26): I was orange for most of my early teens, with white eyeliner, hair slicked back into a bun and a skirt rolled offensively short. I was also terrified of boys and didn't speak to them, it was just a way of getting in with the 'popular' girls who thought I was weird because I looked like an alien. So when I got into the skater scene (I didn't skate, lord no, I just wore hoodies and had a chain), it felt like real liberation. Then my effing sister copied me and I wanted to kill her. I wrote in my diary: 'I've got an individuality, I'm expressing myself, and Gina's not even expressing herself she's just copying so actually she's expressing MYSELF hahahah she's such a fuck'. She played The Rasmus albums which were so lame in comparison to my beloved Linkin Park and Papa Roach (The lyrics 'cut my life into pieces/this is my last resort' really resonated - I was middle class and had a really stable childhood. You can imagine the torture.) and I used to slam a lot of doors and yell cliched things like: 'YOU'RE SUCH A SHEEP'.
Gina (24): I never went through the chav stage growing up. I was a rocker/emo/greebo/legend. The Rasmus were my heros, In The Shadows (their most popular album) was my jam. I remember spending hours miming to their album and then one fateful day I heard Linkin Park's 'Hybrid' Theory seeping out from Stevie's mysterious attic bedroom. I was all over that shit and the same week I found myself standing opposite The Steve in the same hoodie as her, and oh my god she was so pissed off. She argued that I was copying her, and Dad replied with 'Gina you're a sheep, following your sister.... And Stevie you're a sheep following every other 15 year old that's into Linkin Park. Now both piss off.'. Slow clap.
First time one of us saw the other drunk
Stevie: I can't remember it, and it was obviously me.
Gina: The first defining mental image I have of Stevie as a teenager is her standing in her bra and knickers at mum's bedroom door crying and repeating 'I love you, I'm sorry, everything's spinning... I love you'. I pretty much vowed then and there that I wouldn't ever drink. I stayed true to that, and and when I hung out with Stevie's older friends would always proudly proclaim that her younger sister 'didn't drink' and would hook me up with great mocktails. I didn't drink until I was 21 and, even now, I can say I'm usually the most reliable person on a night out. Reliable and a friggin' legend on the D floor (dance floor).
First time one of us went to uni
Stevie: At the point I left home for uni, I couldn't have been more ready. We were both giant walking arseholes and while me and my parents got on really well, me and Gina got on hilariously badly. Gina was just turning 15 and had hit puberty as well as discovering her talent for answering back and wittily retorting (something that I'd always been the best at, by default, because she'd been too young to respond) and I was suffering from severe cabin fever so there was a lot of conversations that would end with me screaming really mean things like: 'I DON'T THINK I LIKE YOU AS A PERSON' while Gina made sarcastic comments about how loud I was yelling. When I actually left, we completely lost contact for about a year which was probably much needed for both of us. I certainly needed to stop being a prick, she certainly needed to stop being a prick, and by the end of my third year she was coming to visit for days at a time with little to no 'I DON'T THINK I LIKE YOU AS A PERSON's involved.
Gina: I don't exactly remember Stevie leaving for Uni, I just remember her making comments about how she couldn't wait to leave and then my parents buying her loads of shit from Ikea, which made absolutely 0% sense to me (WHY ARE YOU REWARDING HER BITCHINESS WITH GIFTS). What I do remember, however was the day she moved out, and how weird it felt. Me and my parents sat at the dinner table quietly eating our dinner feeling a bit weird. The week that followed I was the golden daughter. I wanted to show them how easy I was the live with and that all the trouble and strife was down to my older sister. This backfired when after six days I went mental at my mum for asking me to wash the dishes after dinner. "But STEVIE ALWAYS DID IT, IT'S NOT MY JOB!" My mum replied with "Stevie never complained, she just got on with it and helped!" Fair play mother, fair play.
First time one of us brought a boyfriend home
Stevie: When I brought my first proper boyfriend home from university, he stayed for a week and Gina and I had a code for when he arrived. If she thought he was fit she'd make a weird noise that sounded like 'HOO HOO.' I think my then-boyfriend (who got a 'HOO HOO', for anyone keeping track) thought she was mad, but we then explained and they got on really well. I think I just really wanted her to like him as much as I did – I cared about her liking him way more than any of my uni friends. I'm the same with my current boyfriend – if Gina didn't like him, then I don't think I'd be able to go out with him.
Gina: Okay, firstly it wasn't 'HOO-HOO' it was 'POOP-POOP,' like a train. Not an actual poop. I'd like to point out here that's it's a good job Stevie's first boyfriend had a sense of humour otherwise he would have thought I was some weird 17-year-old emo with tourettes. He got the 'poop' of approval and our parents loved him. Stevie's first major relationship was the first time we really began to give each other advice, and bond over boys. And believe me, there was a lot of advice to be given, let's just say if she introduced me to him today, he would not get the 'poop' of approval.
The first time we got dumped by our boyfriends
Stevie: When I got dumped I basically had the phone attached to my ear and my mum had to talk me through breathing. I didn't actually reach out to Gina, because I thought of her as a 'little sister' so didn't want to burden her with my woes. When Gina got dumped, I came home while she wandered about in a big jumper looking about five years old and it was so, so sad but she's so much stronger. She didn't need teaching how to breathe, but she did need to sleep in my room and we had some good chats. I have never felt more angry at another human (her ex, not her) except, weirdly, the journalist who honey-trapped Tulisa Contostavlos, but that was because when the story broke I was tired and on my period.
Gina: My recollection of Stevie's first big break up is vague because she kept it to herself. I don't blame her – I was too young to give any genuinely good advice, so instead I removed the pictures of her boyfriend from her room while she was on her way home from uni so that she wouldn't have to go through doing it herself. I felt like that was all I could really do. When my first big break-up happened I was a mess. I couldn't eat, cried all day and got ill from it. She was there to comfort me in general, I was sleeping in her room with her because I needed (funny) company, and after having a laugh and joke in her room, I stood in the shower sobbing, hoping the water would mean she couldn't hear me. In the mean time she had settled down for bed. When I came back into her room to sleep I checked my Twitter and she had Tweeted that I was the best person she knew. That meant a lot.
The first time one of us went through some heavy shit
Stevie: When I was at uni, I wasn't very well in the mind to the extent where I re-did a year due to being in bed and crying and unable to leave the flat because I was frightened. Six months in, Gina sent me the most amazing letter (which I still have in my room now, in London) which made me realise I needed to come home. So, when I was at home getting better, and Gina texted me saying a guy was following her around the town centre, I ran into town so fast I didn't even put knickers on (I was wearing trousers, don't worry) and we sat in a Costa in case the weirdo came back. It wasn't like 'you've helped me so I'll help you', it was a completely visceral reaction, but I felt really happy to be – that day – the one looking after her, rather than needing the looking after. The protectiveness you get when you're an older sister and your younger sister is getting followed by a weirdo is a feeling like no other. Gets you right between the tits.
Gina: Stevie went through some seriously heavy shit while she was at Uni, she struggled with stuff I'd never have been able to handle. The subject matter was too tough to talk face to face about so I wrote her a letter I hoped would help. I tried with my very limited grunt based 16-year-old vocabulary to tell her she was wonderful and she would get through all this, I thought she'd appreciate it but I didn't think that at 26 she'd still have it. I know now that in the years that my big sister was struggling, I grew up fast and became more of an equal than a little silly sister. I have no doubt that if something in my life went very wrong she's be there to pick me up and put me back together, as well as write me a long letter with a strawberry scented gel pen. She's also really good with stalkers, and if I need her to come help me, she will arrive wearing no pants.
First time one of us walked in on the other having sex
Stevie: Oh god, I know what Gina's going to talk about and I want to die. Anyway. When I walked in on her, it was way less embarrassing because they were under the covers and there was little to no noise. I knocked and she said 'No! Not now!' and I heard 'Yes, come in!' and her and her boyfriend were totally doing it, but there was no nudity involved. I still had to do some deep breathing. Like the time I went in her drawer and found a vibrator in a shape I didn't know existed. Or when mum told me that she went to get something Gina needed sending to her at uni, and not only found her vibrator but accidentally turned it on and it started humming. Deep. Breath. She's. Not. 12. Any. More.
Gina: Stevie's then-boyfriend came to stay and they had sex really loudly in her room that was above the kitchen, while me and OUR PARENTS were trying to make curry downstairs. Someone turned the radio up. Nobody spoke about it. It was probably the worst 10 hours of my life (all right, it was probably 10 minutes but it felt like sooo much longer) and then they came down and had dinner looking all fresh faced and when I told them afterwards because I'm a really good sister, they were both absolutely mortified. It was very funny.
First time we had a big, adult fight.
Stevie: I have adopted a really bad habit as of late, which is feeling really old and uncool and fat next to Gina, because she is incredibly hot and can talk to anyone. I can't, and I sometimes look like like a mum, so one night when we went out on the town (see, I even sound like a mum) and a group of guys refused to talk to both of us, focusing on her, I got upset. I was also very drunk. Then Gina got upset, because she didn't understand, and while we were arguing, some more guys came over and were all 'HEY, BABY' so Gina pushed him away and his friend got me and Gina confused so retaliated by punching me in the face. The argument continued, and we didn't speak for three days which was horrible because we are best mates – and when you argue with your best mate it feels like the end of the world. I couldn't concentrate in work or anything, and have vowed to stop saying I feel old and uncool and fat next to Gina, because it's unhelpful and makes Spanish people punch me in the face.
Gina: Stevie has adopted a really bad habit as of late, which is feeling old and uncool and fat next to me, which is weird because we look pretty much IDENTICAL. Due to my extremely outgoing nature (which has been relabelled as 'annoying' by countless people) I am apparently very approachable. Stevie is a high-fashion gazelle who always looks like she's on a mission. So yes, a bunch of sleazebags approached me that night, and they just talked to me, because I was being loud and drunk. Stevie got upset about this, her angle being 'Why don't you understand and why are you being mean?' and my argument being 'Why are you ruining our night?' During this conversation a group of Spanish men came up behind me and made rude movements about my bum, so I lost my shit and pushed the guy away. His very small young friend then hit Stevie, who then cried. After this delightful intermission we carried on arguing until I literally got on the wrong tube train to stop the argument because I literally didn't know how else to end it. After three agonizing days we sent two texts Stevie, reading: 'Im sorry, I just was drunk and insecure and got punched in the face for the first time.' Gina: 'I'm sorry, I didn't how to remedy the situation and I just got you punched in the face for the first time.'
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Picture: Jake Kenny
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