About eighteen months ago, I discovered I have a half-sister. For someone who grew up an only child, it was unsettling news. As a kid I was spoiled, doted upon, and somehow managed to regulate the entire universe by allowing it to orbit around my inability to do anything wrong. A sibling, half or not, was a fly in the ointment and even as an adult might diminish my spotlight. On the other hand, I’d always secretly wanted a sister. Someone who shared my blood, understood my drama and hysterics. Someone I could lean on, connect to in a meaningful way. Someone who would call me something cool like, “Bro.”
How I found out about Lindsey is too complicated to address, so I’ll fast-forward to when I discovered she existed. I reached out to her on Facebook and introduced myself as a friend of a friend. She ignored me, which is how most women react to me on Facebook. But I was relentless, and when I finally told her I believed I was her brother, she immediately connected with me. She asked her parents, who confirmed my statement, and a few days later I was on my way to visit her in a small town an hour west of Charleston.
Cottageville is about a mile long, and that’s probably one mile too many. The town has a traffic light, a Dollar General, a used car lot, and two overweight police officers who monitor the highway spot where the speed limit drops from forty-five to thirty-five, as if Al-Qaeda might tear through at any moment. Lindsey’s house sits next to the highway, and I drove past at first thinking it was a petting zoo. Her property is full of dogs, horses, goats, chickens, and a white miniature horse named Olaf.
Lindsey is eighteen years my junior, which puts her in her early thirties. She and I didn’t just grow up in different towns, we grew up in different worlds. When I was ten years old, I was staying in my own room at the Plaza Hotel and wearing a deerstalker cap because I thought it made me look intelligent. When my sister was ten, she was learning how to rope horses and scrub shotgun chokes. As a teenager, I would drink Negronis on the deck of a yacht crossing the Caribbean, and Lindsey would drink “Natty Light” on a jon boat headed down the Edisto. What we shared is that we were both loved and we were both happy.
Our first couple of meetings were tenuous. I gave Lindsey a trucker cap embroidered with a distillery logo, and she bought me a martini glass to keep in her kitchen cabinet above the mason jars she uses for drink ware. But over time we have bonded. We now text each other daily, mostly complaining about all of the other people who live on the planet or what alcohol we will be consuming next. I travel to Cottageville to visit her once a month. I bring my own gin and stop at the Dollar General for a bag of pork rinds. Then we sit on her porch and watch the waddling policemen hand out speeding tickets as if they were promotional flyers.
Over the past year and a half, Lindsey has taught me a lot. Mainly that I’m too quick to judge. We are two people who never would have connected if not for the realization that we have the same DNA gliding through our cells. We are two sides of a coin but we love one another as only siblings can. If she’d just call me “Bro” instead of “Bubba,” it would be a perfect relationship.