I'm so darned grateful. How appropriate that it was just Thanksgiving.
We had a terrific time in the States and I like to think that I didn't revert back into the immature youngest sister that I was time and time again when visiting my mom and sibs. Though Ivo pointed out that I said "I'm sorry" more than was necessary. But a-hah! Because the way one says "Thank you" in Japanese is "I am sorry". Where is, in German, the word "danke" is from the word for thinking. "(Ich) danke schön" literally: I think pretty. I love that.
When I say that I've been to visit my family, there is a typical exchange that follows:
conversation partner: Oh? Do you have brothers and sisters?
(conversation partner is attentive)
me: I have. A brother and sister.
cp: older or younger?
me: older sister. twin brother.
cp: Twins?!?! Do you feel his pain or have a secret language?
me: ummm, not really.
Lucas and I have never had a secret language, but we had a special way of starting a conversation for a while. Sadly, no longer. It used to be, that Ivo and I would greet Lucas with a friendly "How's your tree?"
You see a tree grew in Brooklyn, just outside my brother's apartment. It was planted there a few summers ago. Ivo and I came into town when it was still new. We arrived with Lucas, who'd been out of town for the weekend. We approached his building and heard him groan "Oooh noo. The tree!" It seems that it had been planted too shallow and that the city wasn't giving it enough water. Lucas made short work of that. Or rather, long, stair climbing work. He put down his bags and brought down the milk jugs filled with tap water that he had for this purpose. For a few years this went on. Asking him "How's your tree?" has proved to be a great conversation-starter. You see, no matter what else might be negative in his life, it appears less so in comparison. After the gloomy tree report, everything else seems a little less bad. The tree is no officially dead as is our perfect conversation-starter.
This isn't necessarily a twin-communication, though. After all, Ivo used it too and he and Lucas aren't twins. Plus the fact that Kendra and I had a similar opener a few years ago. "How's your guts?" is not unlike "How's your tree?"