When I think of Rosamunde, the very first image I get is of her slowly moving to one of her favorite oriental songs by our living room window on a bright summer day. I’d be sitting on the carpeted floor filled with couch cushions, a typical hallmark of the Middle Eastern culture, tightly holding on to one of the pillows while daydreaming and carefully gazing at her up and down as she belly dances against the light. She’d be in her colorful belly dancing belt filled with little shiny coins, beads and crystals. After our trip to Egypt, she had grown a fascination with the culture and the dance attires; that was her initial trigger to pursue ice skating and dancing, something my mother suggested instead because it was a classier, more noble type of dance. Since then, Rosamunde has come a long way in making her dreams come true. Her goals were clear and firm and most importantly, they were honorable. I don’t know where her inner guidance came from. Her ability to effortlessly and willingly do all the right things makes me envious. It’s extremely frustrating to not have been able to live up to the same ideal image. I’ve always wanted to be like her, I just never knew how. It’s just not in me, I guess.
Her presence, even though temporary was a weight on me. I was afraid of saying or doing something wrong, something she’s not used to see me do. I also didn’t want to offend her or make her feel unwelcome, so I showed her the Felix she’s used to seeing, minus the bad temper and cynical behavior. I wanted to make her stay smooth and uncomplicated. She had other plans, though. Heinrich’s intervention apparently wasn’t enough. She had flown all the way here to add in her two cents.
For the most part, I planned some touristy stuff for us to do everyday until her departure; it was my way of keeping her busy and preoccupied so we wouldn’t have time for a serious conversation. However, her intervention was the main priority behind her visit, and although she didn’t want it to be obvious, she tried to pull it off at various times and eventually succeeded during lunch the day before she left. We were making small talk when she implied she could tell I never really liked her; that the only reason I put up with her was only because she was my sister. She pointed out my selfish side by mentioning a few instances in our past were I’d be more engaging or considerate of her only when I had an ulterior motive or was trying to manipulate her into doing something for me. When she graduated from college and started making money, I went out of my way to be sweet and kind to her so she could take me out or buy me things, and she did even when she didn’t feel like it. She mentioned that as if I had made a promise to her in exchange for the things she’s done for me, but I never did. I remember being disappointed the few times I’ve failed to persuade her into giving me something I needed. Either way, it was always completely up to her; I never made her do anything for me. And apparently she did them because it was the only time she felt connected to me, and she hoped that that would lead to a more authentic and genuine relationship.
“Being biologically linked to someone doesn’t necessarily mean I have to harbor feelings for them,” I said.
“So, you hate us?”
“Hate is not the word. The word I’d choose is indifference.”
“Why? Did living abroad all these years turn your heart stone cold?”
“You still don’t get it, do you? I’ve never felt strongly about any of you.”
“But why?! Do you know how much mom and dad have sacrificed for us? Even me. I’ve done nothing but be there for you.”
“Jesus, Rosamunde. You’re not listening. This isn’t a choice. I’m not doing this on purpose. Most of the time I feel nothing, whether it’s towards you or anyone else.”
“You are something else. And honestly, I’m worried about you.”
“You don’t have to be. I’m fine.”
“You’re fine, but about your family? I feel — we feel — used, manipulated. For many years, we thought you genuinely cared about us. But it was only when you needed something from us.”
I’ve noticed that the more I opened up, the more things got bitter, so I stuck to eating my food in silence. She did too. I’m not really the kind of person who says or does all the right things even though I’m very capable of playing that part. I’m just sick of people looking at this idea of what kind of person I’m supposed to be instead of accepting and seeing the real me and try to understand him; unlikable, flawed but truthful. I’m done living in hiding. Who am I kidding, though? No one wants anything to do with somebody like that. I guess I’m better off faking it.
Our goodbye was very uneventful. She took a cab and left for the airport the following day. For the remainder of the day, I sat on the couch and stared at the corner where her luggage was, feeling shitty; like a bad brother.
To get the edge of, I agreed to meet Anders at his favorite Irish bar. Although we haven’t been in touch much recently, it’s good to know he still thinks about me. Being with him is never disappointing, and his honesty has allowed our friendship to grow organically and reach new grounds. I like the fact we don’t rely a lot on each other’s company; although I like him, I can go weeks without seeing him which makes our get-togethers more interesting.