Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My Sister's Grown-Up Job: A Story With Pictures

My sister and I share the same ride to work. We both need to rise up early: so she rises at 5 a.m. and I rise at 5:45. Regardless of starting time, we both finish by 6:10 a.m. We catch our bus to Manila and sleep with her head on my shoulder and my cheek on her head during the ride. We wake up 1 ½ hours later usually within the vicinity of Quiapo. We grab hold of our bags and finally go down at Lawton. This is where our paths diverge: I would help her call an FX because she still needs to go to Vito Cruz and where she’ll catch another jeep going to the Senate. From there, I could only imagine the types of things she needs to do to survive a day’s work inside a senator’s office. From what she says, it isn’t anything like the government offices I have had the chance to observe: city halls, or bureaus, or department offices --- where the employees give each other pedicures and sell tocino to anyone. They do the real hard work because the Senator needs information 24/7. As part of the research and legal team, she needs to be toiling industriously and patiently.

This morning, I helped her get the usual FX and watched her get settled inside. Afterwards, I waved goofily at her in an attempt to make her smile. She only rolled her eyes at me instead. I bet she was conscious of the other passengers who were also looking at me as if I’m an alien from Saturn. Me? Embarassed? Nope, I flashed my most winsome smile (gums and all) and practically bounced to Intramuros where I hailed a pedicab to work.

I do have to wonder though, the differences between my sister and me. It is true that people mistake her for the elder sister. She’d grimace every time she’s told this, of course, but she seems pretty much resigned to the fact. Me, I think it’s funny, except that I can’t help wonder if it’s a good thing. Ella is almost a foot shorter than I am, so if my sheer height and girth can’t convince them of my age, then there must be something else. It’s either I look stupider or more carefree. I like to think it’s pure hakuna matata that’s making me look younger. No wonder then my job doesn’t feel as grown-up as my sister’s.

I mean really, she’s the type to do this at work:

And I’m like this:

I wear rubber shoes to work (makes it easier to go to the gym afterwards):

And she whines because her feet hurts in these shoes:

On weekends, I frolic like this:

While Ella lives in constant trepidation that her phone will ring and her boss will ask for some obscure document which she’ll need to email now, now, now:

I don’t know. In some dark corner of my self, I know this is unfair to her. I should be the one getting the early on-set of wrinkles because of worrying.

I can’t do it though. I mean, I’m not exactly reckless, I do my family right when it comes to my responsibilities. But I have decided a long time ago that I will NOT carry the world’s burden on my shoulders. I’m wondering if I should have been something different.

Less of a bubble and more of a brick. Less of the bounce and more of the march. Less of the Liv and more of the Ms. Burgos.

I don’t know. My sister’s grown up job stares me at the face and I just scratch my head. Her job is always urgent and formal and so high-flying. Just like a grown-up job should be. I know I contribute more to world peace than an accountant ever could, but why does it have to feel like they are the ones doing the real jobs? Meanwhile, my time spent with the poor and the children looks like kid’s play.

What gives?

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