I’ve never let my imagination run away and out of my control; even as a child, I kept my personal fantasies realistic. I didn’t pretend I was a magician, or that a unicorn grazed in my backyard; and I don’t recall ever having an imaginary friend. Playing pretend with my friends was always a chore for me. I didn’t want to be cast as a green skinned witch, or a fairy-tale princess. I wanted to be a veterinarian, or a mother, or a writer—or all three. I spent more time directing, and building backstories for my friends’ characters than I did actual play-acting. What’s funny is I had no problem casting others in roles outside the scope of reality.
I believe I restrained my imagination for the same reason I demanded to dictate my friends: I felt unsafe in my home environment, and I needed to have control over something—anything separate from my mom and dad. I wanted to be a unicorn riding princess, but I couldn’t be one of those carefree kids and still be able to pay attention to my surroundings. I’ve been in survival mode since the day I was born, I swear.
When my little sister was old enough to play pretend, I loved playing with her, even when we played Mom and Baby, and I was the baby; I had to drink imaginary apple juice, even though I preferred imaginary grape. I didn’t mind giving in to Tara. Mostly. She’s a fucking mule, that one, and I must admit that I’ve legit lost to her countless times in my life simply because she’s a stronger personality than I. Can you imagine? A superior personality to mine??? Between the two of us, Tara is the real survivor since birth—she nearly died, ffs.
Tara talks about me all the time. She tells people I’m amazing for this reason and that, and when I meet these people, they have loads of questions. My sister is proud of me. She tells people I’m her best friend, and I’m the one who raised her. It makes me smile, knowing Tara loves me so much, and looks up to me. But it makes me sad, too. I shouldn’t have had to be her mother; I should have only been her big sister.
I’ve been Tara’s “mother” since she came home from the hospital. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m happy we’re so close. Aside from Jim, and Nicole, Tara is my best friend in the whole wide world. She amazes me, the level of patience she has for our mother; if not for Tara, our mother would no longer know me. Because I would have walked away a long time ago. It’s funny, Tara keeps me in our mother’s life, and I keep Tara in our dad’s.