Friday, February 3, 2012

Fact: It is Friday {Sister}

Two long essay-type posts in a row? You poor blog readers. Don't worry, tomorrow the boys turn 11 months, so you'll have some pictures to look at.

Fact: it is Friday: Where I talk about myself. On Fridays.
I don't talk about my babies, unless I want to, which sometimes I might. But mostly Fact: it is Friday is when I'm going to tell you something you maybe didn't know about me.
Or perhaps a story from my bucktoothed-childhood or bratty teenage years.

Becky Fact 18: I have a sister named Lisa, who is not actually my sister. At all.

Often I'll tell people that I have three sisters and a brother. Sometimes I'll say, my sister  Lisa was living in Okinawa this year teaching English. Sometimes people will even see pictures of us, and I'll say "These are my sisters, Mary and Lisa," and people let it slide and assume that Lisa was adopted.
They probably don't want to offend me by asking too many questions.
Even though Lisa is clearly not my biological sister.
Because she is asian.

My sisters Mary and Lisa and I, in a photobooth... for a long time.

Really, the only time that people start to get confused is when I mention my trip to China. It usually goes like this:
Person: What did you go to China for?
Me: My sister Lisa is from Hong Kong, so we went to visit her family.
Person: What, like her birth mother?
Me: Like her real mother... she grew up there and didn't come live with us until she was 17.
Person: So... you guys... adopted her? As an adult?
Me: Uh, nope.

And then I start into the long version of the story, which goes like this:

When I was 16, my family decided to have a foreign exchange student come stay with us. We were given a catalog with pictures and mini bios of students to choose from. This student likes hiking, that student likes classic cinema.
As far as I can remember, we wanted our student to be a girl (since there were two teenage girls at home, having a boy stay with us didn't seem quite appropriate), around my age, probably Chinese -since we love Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and egg rolls, and she had to be cute.
I'm pretty sure that cute was our top priority. And Lisa was freaking adorable.

She moved in with us at the beginning of the school year.  She was shy and quiet. She refused to admit to liking or disliking anything, "I don't like, I don't dislike" she would say. I could hardly ever convince her to come hang out with my friends.  Poor Lisa, she'd gone from living in one of the worlds largest, most diverse and bustling cities to Buffalo, Minnesota. Population: about 15, 000 goofy white people with accents that were hard to understand.

One of my most horrifying memories of those early weeks was when Mary and Lisa and I were sitting around and I farted a little.
"Excuse me," I said.
"What?" asked Lisa.
"Oh, excuse me. Sorry..." She continued to look confused. "I just... farted a little," I explained, becoming extremely uncomfortable.
"What does that mean?" asked Lisa.
"I... uh..." I wasn't sure how to explain myself. Of course Lisa hadn't learned the word fart in school. "I passed gas," I tried.
She shook her head. She still didn't know.
Mary chimed in, "Hot stinky air came out of Becky's butt!" (she was about 13 at the time.)
Lisa looked confused still, so Mary pointed at my butt, and then mimed waving away stink fumes. She pinched her nose and yelled "P.U!"
She then spent the next few minutes making really horrible fart sounds, while Lisa looked confused and I  tried to die of shame.

Last time I asked Lisa, she told me that she really hadn't known what it meant.  I'd kind of decided that she was leading us on as a joke. Guess not, sheesh.

Anyway, after a few months we started being friends. Real friends. Best friends.
And we learned lots of things about her. Let me just say, she's easily the coolest person that I know.  She's an amazing photographer, a talented writer, probably the funniest person in our family, and really personable and friendly.
By the time the school year ended, Lisa had decided to stay in Minnesota and attend a local college, about 40 minutes away. She lived in the dorms, but came home on weekends and holidays, and we called her on the phone and drove up to visit her regularly.  She stayed with us over the summers, when flying home for three months was too expensive.  We stopped referring to her as "Our exchange student Lisa," and started saying "Our sister Lisa."
For Kathryn, who was only a few months old when Lisa moved in with us, she was no different than any of her other siblings. She'd always been there.
By the time Lisa finished school, four years later, she'd been around almost as long as Jack could remember too.
And for Mary, who desperately wanted a female role model besides (God forbid) her own mother and sister, Lisa was the best thing that had ever happened to her.  In fact, Mary is now a junior in college, and working towards her goal of working in Chinese/American adoptions, and is leaving to teach English in China in a few short months. Oh, and did I mention that Lisa is the one who taught me how to use photoshop actions and change settings on my camera?
She also introduced me to foreign films. Did you know that Chinese people make movies besides Kung Fu movies? I did not.
She was the first person in our family to meet Travis (when she came to visit me at school) and pass an approving judgement, even though he's almost two feet taller than her.
And the boys have an armload of awesome gifts from their aunt Lisa, including those sweet bibs, a stuffed pineapple and goya, and yes, silk robes.

What? Yes. I stole this picture off of Lisa's facebook because I LOVE IT.
So yeah. Lisa shaped all of our lives in really wonderful and lasting ways. And now that she's been around for over six years, it's sometimes even hard for me to remember that she wasn't always part of our family.

Anyway. Being around my family in Montana makes me miss Lisa even more than usual.  She's been living in Asia for the last two(ish) years, and the last time I saw her was at my wedding.
Except on Skype and Tango, of course. Hallelujah for technology!
And Lisa, when you read this: I hope it inspires you to COME FREAKING VISIT ME, ALREADY.
The boys need to meet their secret benefactor.
And also, I love you.

And I'd love a vote, please!
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Polly said...

Also Lisa, Jack is taller then you now and Kathryn is still smaller. I wish you could come visit too, but I know your working hard and have a new job. I guess Mary will probably be the one to see you next. We should skype this weekend since Becky is at my house. That would be fun! love you Mom

MARCIE said...

I never heard that horrible story before. Leave it to Mary to give such a thorough explanation! Love you Lisa!

Lisa said...

I love you. It's crazy how far we have come these couple years. We are amazing! I miss your family very very much and by the way I seriously don't remember the farting story until you mention how Mary explained what it was to me. Hmmm I only have the image of what it might have been like. So no worries!

I have been doing some moving-back-cleaning and I found the CD of pictures Eli had burned for us 6 years ago. It didn't work on the Mac in 2006, it magically works fine today. So I will emailed some of them to you later. :)

Angela said...

That is such a sweet post!!! I want an Asian sister, now! :-)


F as in Frank said...

This is such a sweet post. It reminds me of my "sister" from Korea... I was always asked the same questions too. Obviously we aren't biologically related, no, we didn't adopt her as a child, no she is not a foreign exchange student, she's just my sister!