Most of my friends live far away. I rarely see them much above once or twice a year. I would love to be able to see them more often. I love to imagine what it would be like to have a friend so close that I could see them every day. Of course, if I went to school I would be able to see lots of friends each day. But even that consideration does not make me want to swap my homeschooled life for that of a school girl.
I might notice the lack of friends very much. I could sit about the house moping and whinging that I have no friends. I would certainly make myself a real pain in the neck. But there is one thing stopping me from doing that. Something that makes my long distance friendships easy to bear. That one thing is my sister Charlotte.
For as long as I can remember we have been good friends. I can remember when playing without her when she was a baby, too young yet to join in with all my wild games. But, as she grew older, I can't remember a time when we didn't do everything together. From playing games to sharing a room, everything was shared between us.
Charlotte used to have many dodges to get out of various kinds of work that she didn't want to do. Bed making was a job she hated. So, morning after morning, she would come to me at bed making time and say, "Imogen, I can't make my bed. Will you show me how?"
And so, morning after morning, I would painstakingly show her how to mae her bed properly, until one day I realised that I was doing all her work and refused to do it any more.
Most of our afternoons were spend outdoors, playing in the garden. I would make up the games and Charlotte would uncomplainingly play any part I asked her to. She was my indian sister, my hotel guest. We swept pine needles, made cubby houses and fought wars side by side.
During this last summer she dragged me out of bed, grumbling loudly, and marched me down the bush tracks and back. Most of the way down I would hardly speak, my brow furrowed, my eyes flashing. You would hardly think that I'd actually asked her to get me up! But on the way back we'd talk about everything and anything. And by the time we reached the house I'd be smiling and laughing and definitely ready for my breakfast, behaving as if the early morning moodiness had never happened
Now, we are still best of friends. She shares my room (or is it the other way round?) We work on craft projects together. Her creativity spurs me on, lazy thing that I am, to try harder to finish things I start. She helps me when I get stuck in a knitting pattern that is so easy to her, but that I can't see how to do at all. She never loses her temper with me. If I suggest anything, even down to deep cleaning our room, which is a lengthy process involving a whole days work, plus many messes, much throwing of things out, and eventually great exhaustion, she will at once get out the buckets, smile at me, and get to work.
If you pass our bedroom door at any time of day, you are sure to here the busy hum of voices as we discuss the latest book we have been reading, talk about our knitting plans, suggest plot ideas for our stories, or just chat about life in general. If you stand there for a moment longer you will hear us burst into wild laughter as one of us cracks a joke, or remembers something funny. Charlotte always understands my jokes. Her mind works in the same wild way as mine some of the time, though for the rest it is far more orderly and methodical. We think of the same things at the same time, either saying something together, or looking at each other over the table and sharing a smile as we know that we are thinking the same thing.
My sister is my best friend. My other friends might live a long way away, but Charlotte more than makes up for them. I have heard of familys where there is only one girl. One of my friends is like that. I hear of others where the sisters don't get on. I sit here in my arm chair and pity them from the bottom of my heart, becase they don't have a sister like mine.