We're the Heroes of Our Own Stories

My family lived in Costa Rica for a year. It was a year of friends, laughter, beautiful mountains, beaches and fresh avocados every day. But I feel like if I go back, I'll pop this beautiful bubble of memories I have from when we lived there. It was the last place I lived where life seemed normal. It was the last place I lived where my family of four was under the same roof.

Even with its small backyard of grass and green vines crawling up the wall and the French doors, always open allowing small birds to hop around in the kitchen and pick up crumbs from the floor, I know that our life wasn't perfect in our little white house in San José. Looking back at Costa Rica, I feel like we lived a carefree life, pura vida, as the locals would say. And although our life wasn't perfect, I’ve managed to push all the bad memories to the back of my mind and keep all the good ones up front. When we lived in Costa Rica, my sister and I were the closest we’ve ever been. And we’ve always been close, but we were inseparable there.

We listened to music by Regina Spektor and Ingrid Michaelson throughout that whole year. My sister and I with our friends would take the bus out to the beach on weekends. We would lie there, soak up the sun and listen to the waves with those two playing in the background on repeat. One of my favorite songs by Regina Spektor was “Hero”, my favorite lyric being, “I’m the hero of the story, don’t need to be saved.” I loved feeling like it was us against the world.

I had a tendency to play it safe, but Brittany constantly pushed me out of my comfort zone, whether I liked it or not. She took the lead and went zip lining first in Costa Rica. Then she told me I had to try it. She was eager to run into the ocean and go past the giant waves that terrified me, yelling at me to come out and join her.

Brittany showed me what bravery was. She wasn’t scared to speak her mind to people or to go on new adventures. With all the moves and all the changes we went through, she was my rock, and with her I always had a friend with me. I’d like to think that I was braver than I felt with every move, but things were easier with her by my side. I never had to walk in a room alone, and Brittany’s Spanish has always been better than mine. She also does well with large groups of people. When we met new people, she would talk, and I would just smile and nod with whatever she said. Brittany was my own personal hero I had around me all the time. But when she moved back to the states, I had to learn to be my own hero. I had to learn to jump into things like she did, and to force myself out of my comfort zone, without her there to do the shoving for me.

Brittany moved back to the States after being with us for 6 months in Costa Rica. She went back to start working and go to college, and I was left alone for the first time with my parents. I no longer had my partner in crime. I no longer had my protective, assertive, outgoing big sister with me. I cried the whole way home from the airport on the morning we dropped her off; I was used to goodbyes, but I had never had to say goodbye to her before.

I called her when things were hard. I told her about the photoshoot our friends had in the rain without her and the drama at school. I updated her on my relationship with my first boyfriend. It wasn’t the same without her around.

People always ask if she and I are close, we are, but we are as different as we are close. We look nothing alike and have vastly different personalities. She doesn’t like to call me or text me very much, and she’s not a fan of hugs or personal touching of any kind, while I am the complete opposite. As different as we are, we bond over our love for music, traveling and all the places we’ve lived together. She understands me better than anyone, and sometimes I swear she knows what I’m thinking.

We live on opposite sides of the country now, and I only see her a few times a year, but she’s still my other half. I’ll call her for advice or just as someone to tell me I’m not crazy for feeling a certain way. I’ll call her when I’m frustrated with something someone said because they don’t understand my life or just to tell her a random funny story. When we’re together, it’s like no time has passed. Sometimes I feel like I’m still adjusting to not having her around all the time, and every time I move, I wish she was moving with me to experience the new place together.

My sister showed me bravery and that I don’t need to be saved. Now I know that I can be the hero of my own story.