Left: Meredith with her family. Right: Meredith in the middle of her older sister and younger brother. (Photo courtesy of Meredith Walker) We, the Walkers, are a tough crowd.
Thanks to our loving and clever parents, we saw This is Spinal Tap in the theatre, which was pretty cutting edge at the time. We grew up memorizing lines from Raising Arizona and, when the Sunday comics were passed around, we knew why Doonesbury and Bloom County were funny. We made fun of each other like seasoned stand-up comedians, going for the laugh even if it was a little too sharp.
When my sister Megan walked in after a particularly pixie-esque haircut, my brother Christopher looked at her and said: “Don’t ever do that again.”
It was easy to get along for the most part because the three of us are close in age. My sister and I are 17 months apart, and my brother and I are 20 months apart. Megan is a Type-A firstborn; anything she does is done well, done to perfection. Trust me. Whether she is painting a bathroom, volunteering at school or making hollandaise, she is at the top of her game. She is raising three kids who are friends and goofy, loveable weirdos just like we are. *Extra credit if you can figure out why my best friend is a firstborn sister Type-A.
I am the classic middle child; I am a fixer, and I grasp for approval where I can get it, meaning I work hard for it. I’ve “run” the NYC Marathon, given dozens of speeches and I return my shopping cart every time.
We have to be connected because we are siblings, but we choose to be together because we are real friends.
Christopher is the baby brother and will always be the baby brother, which must bug the crap out of him a lot of the time. He is the deep thinker and the funniest of us – probably because my sister and I damaged him by making fun of almost everything he did. When he was a kid, he used to order Cokes with no ice by asking for what he decided to call a “Horse With No Name.” Really? It made no sense at all, other than the fact those were lyrics in a song by America. We STILL make fun of him for doing that. But, hey, because of us he formed an excellent sense of humor, so it all works out.
Each of us has unconventional aspects to our lives. Our parents showed us that roles can be defined in ways that don’t have to be stereotypes. Dad made cheesecakes while our Mom did the taxes. We laugh at the same things, campaign for the same things and enjoy the same things that our parents do. (Except the cats – they both love cats. Where did that come from?) We have group texts going at all times, and we talk to each other more than we talk to our friends. Making time to be in the presence of one another is a priority because, as my boyfriend observed, we are the most real when we are talking with each other. And he’s right; it isn’t always pretty, but it’s always really us.
We have to be connected because we are siblings, but we choose to be together because we are real friends. We have had huge fights – the kind that would drive friends apart forever – but we stick with each other. It isn’t an option. We have to find a way to laugh about things. Most of our biggest fights are now our biggest private jokes.
Siblings are like no other because we know each other the deepest. We watch each other evolve through our entire lives; we witness each other’s successes and failures, great joys and dreadful heartaches. Through it all, we help each other. We have each other’s backs.
One of my favorite memories happened a couple of years ago. It had been too long since we’d had some hang time, so we were all in Austin because we wanted to be together.
We went out to Lake Travis and rented two SeaDoos. My sister and I were on one and my brother was on the other. It was my idea because I am the one who pushes my family do more adventurous stuff they might not do on their own. As Christopher says, “You make us do stuff.” We hike and canoe and take really stupid posed pictures that annoy all of our friends. Yes, I do make them do these things; I am the one who preaches the message “GET YOUR HAIR WET” for a living, after all.
At first, Megan was a little timid and just wanted to ride behind me. After 30 minutes, she was the Evel Knievel of Lake Travis. Christopher was scared of going too fast but realized he actually liked having fun. We couldn’t get him to stop when our time was up. We were out there hootin’ and hollerin’ that afternoon. We were just the Walker kids again, and it was just about perfect.
Until we got into a fight about where we were going to eat dinner.