From Ballet Costumes to Ninja Turtles
Photo courtesy of Dori Price
I feel so lucky to have grown up with two amazing younger brothers, who are more like best friends. They were actually my “men of honor” at my wedding—instead of having a bridal party, I knew I just wanted my two brothers by my side. We have an ongoing group text that never stops at any time of day, whether it’s funny stories, silly pics or serious advice. And while I couldn’t imagine a day without them, I didn’t always feel that way as a little girl and teenager.
Being one of three means one is always left out. And as the only girl, that was often me. When it was just two of us, my brother Adam did everything I wanted—made up dances, dressed up in ballet costumes and more. But as soon as little Eric came along, we instantly became a boy-centric house. Think Ninja Turtles, Little League, collecting baseball cards, Nintendo…the list goes on. And whenever we went on vacation, I had to decide between sharing a room with my wild and crazy brothers or my parents; not an easy decision as you can imagine.
Photo courtesy of Dori Price
While we’ve always been close, our relationships have changed a lot as we’ve all gotten older and are now in the same phase of life. A few years ago, we decided to do a siblings trip to New Orleans (my littlest brother was in medical school there) and brought my sister-in-law, too. That weekend was one of my favorite weekends and trips I can remember. I have never laughed so hard or smiled so much in a three-day period. We were all devastated for it to end!
My brothers will make fun of me for anything and everything (and truth be told, I do the same), but they always have my back and are there for me no matter what. Nothing compares to the bond between siblings and I hate to brag, but mine are pretty great!
Photo courtesy of Daley Quinn
When my younger brother and I were kids, I somehow always became one of the villains he had to fight off after watching Power Rangers. In third or fourth grade, my class was learning how to make PowerPoint presentations on our school computers. Our big assignment was to make a 10-slide presentation on anything we wanted—I ended up making my PowerPoint about Austin fighting with me after watching Power Rangers, and what my parents must to do to stop the torment. I presented it to them, they laughed, and nothing really changed. Thankfully, my presentation/persuasion skills have improved since then, and now all I get from my brother are hugs and “I love yous.”
My Sister and I: The Opposites
Photo courtesy of Ardenis Perez
“Are you two twins?” That’s a common question people ask my sister and me after we tell them our names. My name is Ardenis and her name is Armenis. But other than our names nothing about us is quite as similar. She’s short, I’m tall. She’s impulsive, I overthink. She’s outgoing, I’m an introvert. She’s way too messy, while I’m super organized.
In a good way, we balance each other out. When Armenis tries to make crazy decisions like splurging on things she doesn’t need, I’m the voice of reason who knocks sense into her. When I’m being a wallflower at a party she encourages me to dance and mingle. Do we fight? Of course! We argue about my sometimes, moody attitude and about clothes (she likes to borrow mine without my permission). And if we spend too much time together we take a break from each other. Then a day later one of us texts the other ‘I miss you’ and we’re back to our usual selves.
One thing I’ve learned throughout decades of sisterhood is that friends will always come and go, but family is forever. There’s no one else I would rather tell my deepest darkest secrets to or share my last bite of crème brûlée with. I know she will always have my back no matter what and I would do the same for her. No, we’re not twins, but we are without a doubt each other’s favorite person.
—Ardenis Perez, Associate Editor
My Hungry, Hungry Brothers
Photo courtesy of Krystal Hagan
I grew up the oldest—and only girl—of three kids, all two years apart. Needless to say, we didn’t all get along so swimmingly during those angst-filled teenage years. One of the biggest arguments that occurred in our house was over food. Mainly, my brothers would eat all of it, leaving none for me. These fights quickly escalated once I got my first job. I would often bring home my own leftovers, wisely writing my name on the outside of the container—or so I thought. Of course, this “warning” would then be promptly ignored by one or two “starving” brothers as the food disappeared down their gullets.
Going through a box of mementos recently, I was reminded of our family’s most egregious food theft of all time. I found an old birthday card from the two of them that read: “Happy birthday, buttface.” (We were—and still are— a sentimental bunch.) Inside, they had both signed it. But it was what my youngest brother wrote that had me dying laughing and snapping a photo of it to send to both of them: “Yea, I took your cookie, but Happy Birthday anyway.” That cookie he’s talking about? It was a giant birthday cookie cake that literally had my name on it. In frosting. And he ate it.
To this day, I still don’t like to share my food.
My Cool Older Sister
I turned 12 in the fall of 1989. One of my biggest obsessions at the time was collegiate sitcom “A Different World” (though most of its co-ed content sailed over my pre-adolescent head). To me, the show represented the fun and freedom of leaving the nest. It was everything I imagined my 19-year-old sister was enjoying while she was away at college. So, you can imagine my excitement when I was invited to get a firsthand glimpse of that fantasy.
My parents agreed to drive me to her campus for a weekend visit. I don’t recall who devised this plan, but if you knew my family, you’d know this was an unusual turn of events.
My sister and I were like night and day, and our age gap didn’t help matters. She was often forced to let me tag along and we even had to share a room. What teen wants to be burdened with a pesky grade schooler? While she was in high school, we spoke only in threats: me threatening to snitch and her threatening me with swift, painful retribution if I did.
A visit to her new sophomore digs offered the possibility of turning over a new leaf.
When I arrived, I found the warm, nurturing sister I never got to see when I was getting the remote control ripped from my hands and the bathroom door slammed in my face. We toured all her favorite local haunts. I marveled at the pub where she worked, a cool-kid hangout plucked right out of a John Hughes film. We stopped by a quirky gift shop where I bought a pair of delicate golden spiral earrings that I still wear to this day. I got cozy in the rental flat she shared with her roommate. It may have been all shabby and no chic, but it still smacked of grown-up glamour to me. I watched TV well past my bedtime. She let me pig out on sugary cereals, which were forbidden back home (we laughed out loud when we discovered that Cookie Crisp was actually gross). More importantly, I spent that time confiding in my sister, rather than conspiring against her. It was a dream come true. And then, it was over.
During that one special weekend, I got to be Freddie Brooks, floating through a whimsical daydream that looked nothing like my boring, sheltered daily life. For a few months after that visit, my sister sent me little care packages — a heart-toting teddy bear on Valentine’s Day or a cute knick-knack just because — but that habit dried up before long. We eventually became “special occasion sisters,” speaking only during the holidays and birthdays. But I still look back oh-so fondly on that one time when we successfully hit the reset button.
Photo courtesy of Vanessa Fiori
Growing up with three sisters was wild, at least at my house. All four of us are just about two years apart from the next (Michelle, Noelle, myself, and Toni). When we were younger there were countless fights over Barbie dolls, clothes, the dreaded dial-up AOL schedule after school, who got to sit shotgun in mom’s car, eventually who got to borrow mom’s car, and so on. Somehow, we survived the treacherous high-school years and grew into built-in best friends. As we get a little older, I recognize and appreciate how special and rare our bond is. Through it all—the new jobs, the weddings, the babies, the diagnosis of a sick parent—I can’t imagine life without the squad (fifth member of the #girlsquad = mom). We pick each other up when we need it, we keep each other in check, and we’re always there to celebrate when it’s deserved!
Sweet Sister Bond
Photo courtesy of Jonna Gallo
My sister Leslie and I were born almost seven years apart, and so growing up we were typically at very different life stages. Our (single) mother worked full-time, and so Les was required to watch me after school every afternoon. She wasn’t thrilled, by any means, but lucky for me, she didn’t hold it against me personally. She and I were supposed to do long, boring lists of chores that our mom wrote out on a steno pad and left on the kitchen table, but instead we snacked and watched “Guiding Light” every single day at 3 p.m. without fail. (Yes, I was watching a soap opera when I was 5, and I knew every character by name and the good, the bad and the ugly of what he or she was up to. I turned out okay.) Guiding was a must, and then we would loaf around a bit longer or maybe watch "Love Connection." Then, around 4:30 p.m., when we knew our mother would be home soon, we’d scramble around to get stuff crossed off the list so we wouldn’t get yelled at and punished. I don’t think I knew it then, but my sister and I were bonding, big time. She has been my unfailing supporter and never-say-die cheerleader, through thick and thin, for my entire adult life. She’s also a ridiculously fun and crazy generous aunt to my son and daughter, which has added an extra love layer to our relationship. This photo, a selfie snapped on the beach in Provincetown, is from our annual sisters-and-kids August vacation last summer, a tradition she started in 2015. My husband doesn’t come because he’s not a beach guy and doesn’t get much time off work—and also, frankly, because it would probably be hard for him to get a word in edgewise. I cannot imagine life without my sister!