I'm writing this essay as part of the Week of Writing Prompts, a celebration of my first year of blogging. Click the link to find out more!
Today is the big day, the one you've been waiting for. What's happening? How do you feel? OR How do you find comfort?
I shared a room with my sister for the first 18 years of my life, until I moved away to college. We had a decent sized room, with two dressers and one nightstand. We also had a small walk in closet that had room for both of our clothes, and for the two of us if we were so inclined.
I have a lot of memories in that bedroom. I remember the day my mom helped us sponge paint the walls to make it look like a pastel forest. Pale white, soft green, delicate lavender and small sprinkles of light pink surrounding us as we laid our heads down at night. That room was "fairy" themed, and lasted us until I entered high school.
I remember falling asleep at night, my sister and I would make so much noise, giggling and laughing until our parents knocked on the wall that connected our bedroom to theirs and told us to go to sleep. We'd stay quiet for a few minutes before we started up again, this time hushing our voices so only we could hear. We were best friends living as sisters, teaming up and taking on the world one day at a time.
I remember reading books in that bedroom, and having books read to me. So much of my childhood centered around stories. The ones my mom would read to us at night, as we pressed out pillows against the wall and sat along the length of the bed. Or the ones my father would make up as he laid on the floor in between our beds. His stories were one of a kind, and focused around two main characters, Geraldine and Melinda. They were two adventursome young girls who treked around the world exploring and solving crimes. They had an enemy, the "silly whomper" who always foiled their plans. We always knew when he was entering the story, because my dad would use his big voice to make a "whomping" sound, which would send my sister and I into a fit of giggles. It was magic. We'd listen in awe as my dad created an entire world around us, and we'd fall asleep to the sound of his voice as we imagined that one day we would get a chance to explore the world like our fictional counterparts.
So naturally, as we got a little older, my sister and I wanted to tell our own stories. It started mostly out of necessity, as we wanted to prolong the hours before sleep and stay awake as long as possible. We'd do anything to prevent ourselves from falling asleep. Even closing our eyes in shifts, taking turns and keeping each other awake through the entire night. Seeing how long we could keep the light on before mom or dad came in to lay down the law. I started a little game that took place in an imaginary world. It was just for us and it was aptly named "J-World", after, you know, "Josie World".
It was based off one of our favorite games to play on the internet, Neopets. Where players had their own pets, their own clubs and played games to win neopoints. They also had stores, where they could sell virtual items to make even more neopoints. Similar to Neopets, J-World ran on J-Points, the currency that made things happen and determined your success in our virtual world.
The only catch? The game was played entirely with our imaginations, with me as the narrator voicing all the different characters and describing everything. Oh and another thing, my sister was the only actual player.
We'd lay in our beds, heads against our pillows waiting for my mom to shut the door and turn out the lights. Then my sister would excitedly whisper, "Can I go to J-World?" And so it began.
"Entering J-Wooooooorld", I'd say. Stretching out the words so that they rose and fell. This was my sister's cue to begin her game. She'd dial an imaginary phone where the operator (me) would transport her to different areas of the world. She had a little shop, called "Penguin World" where she sold merchandise with one common theme. Yeah, literally just all penguin stuff. It was wildly popular in J-World. One storyline that we explored was the everyday operations of keeping a small business alive. My sister would restock the store and come up with new products to sell, all based on what sounded good to her that day. Her business eventually grew to be so popular that she didn't know what to do with all of her J-Points. She kept having to make virtual trips to the bank, which grew tiring (for both of us), so she came up with a solution. A hole cut in the side of her shop, directly behind the cash register, which connected to her bank account. Every time someone would make a purchase the money would go directly to her savings account. A pretty wonderful example of my sister's excellent ability to save and manage her money, which she keeps up with to this day.
The big rival of Penguin World was the J-World equivalent of Walmart, called "Cheezy Doodle". My sister was always competing with the big box store, but sometimes would have to visit them to get the supplies she needed to make upgrades to her imaginary house. There are little details like that that I can remember. Sometimes she'd ask if she could turn the radio on, and I would be forced to sing different songs until she switched the radio stations. I'd alternate between country music, pop music, and talk radio. We were masters of our imaginations, and J-World was the perfect place to nurture our creativity.
It was a game with no point, and pretty much nothing ever happening. But we would play for hours and hours, long after the rest of the house fell asleep. Fighting to keep our eyes open to see what would happen. It was like a game of improv that we participated in every night. Never knowing where my sister would end up or which characters she'd meet. Somedays she'd look for a new job, or go out to clubs to meet new friends. The options were endless, and the beauty of it was that we were in complete control. If we didn't like the way something was turning out, we could change it. I loved making my sister laugh, playing funny characters with goofy voices. She loved becoming an entrepreneur, running a successful business that grew and changed as her customer base did.
But eventually we grew older, and lost interest in our little world. We had new things to focus on, like boyfriends, and real jobs. We moved on to middle school and then high school. When it was time for me to go to college, I moved out and we had no chance of playing again. I got used to falling asleep without the sounds of my sister in the background. Without knowing that she was just feet away. The few times that we were both back at our parents house together, we'd both stay out at different times. Rarely ever falling asleep together and hardly taking the time to gossip with eachother as we fought the sandman.
Life just moved on. We didn't need J-World anymore because we had all the things that game gave to us. Instead of imagining the real world, we were living in it. J-World was a distant memory.
It was something I totally forgot about, until a few months ago when my sister came to visit me. We were getting ready to fall asleep, this time sharing my large bed in my small apartment. I turned the lights out, and as the night air grew quieter, I heard my sister softly speak up.
"Josie?", She asked.
"What?" I questioned, already annoyed that she was interrupting my bedtime ritual.
"Can we go to J-World?"
Laughter, erupting from within. Fits of giggles just like the ones we'd fall victim to during the days of our childhood. I pressed my face against my pillow to keep the noise down before remembering that no parents were around to tell us to quiet down. We were kids again, but somehow were were still in our adult bodies. It was a memory, instantly resurfaced by a similar routine. Comfort, because nobody ever quite understands you like your sister does. Comfort, because hearing my sister laugh is still one of my favorite things. And comfort, because even though J-World wasn't real, it was real to us.
I like writing about my sister. Wanna read more about the stuff we do together? You might like the following essays: