Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Claim To Fame?

On Saturday night I had the pleasure of going to an engagement party for a guy I consider a "brother from another mother". He is the same age as my younger brother, about 30 and he grew up friends with my brother S., spending a lot of time in my home. I did not like him much then, he was an obnoxious little twit, and I did not need ANOTHER obnoxious young brother. But as was expected, he grew out of his youthful indiscretions and I like him a lot more now.

I found myself, at D.'s engagement party, introducing myself to his relatives initially as Orah F. (my married name), and quickly recognized the blank stares. So I immediately followed it up with the ol'
"Orah S. (maiden name), I am S.'s sister".

And there it was - the expected "ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh".

And I realized, even now at the ripe young age of 29 (+), after building a life for myself and grasping onto my own identity, my claim to fame still has to revolve around one of my six siblings.

When you grow up one of seven kids, whose births span the 50's, 60's and the 70's you can forget ever staking claim to your own identity. And if you are a girl and have changed your last name upon marriage, some of your own relatives who have not seen you in years will not know who you are if you do not pull out the maiden name.

I have been the daughter of "That" lovely business man, and the sister of "The" Midwife. I have also been the SISTER OF...,
the valedictorian,
the really funny brother who gets the lead roles in every play,
the brother who is a starter on the High School basketball team,
the brother who is head counselor of that camp in Wisconsin,
the sister who is getting her Doctorate in Psychology,
The brother with the 12 kids...

I can go on and on and on.

I think it took until Senior year in High School, for me to just be known as.... me.

I was the girl who started a high school newspaper,
I ran canteen,
I was captain of color war,
I was the girl who ditched class and got away with it and could be found sleeping on a stinky, decrepit used couch in the lounge.

I was a senior and I was cool.

And then after High School,
I joined organizations.
I had my own lead roles in plays.
I became a nurse, myself.

I met new people and made new friends and most of them think I am an only child and have no clue who any one of my siblings is.

Seriously, most people who know me now, are shocked to find out I ACTUALLY have siblings.

And when I tell them, that not only do I have six siblings, but my oldest sister is 50 years old...... I love the look on their faces.

And the cherry on top, when my older sister from New Jersey called me up and asked,
"Did you go to camp in New York with a girl named R.I."?

"Yes, yes I did".

"Well, she is my neighbor, and as soon as I told her my name, she said,
"Oh, are you Orah's sister......"

I felt like I had finally made it. I was no longer just "so and so's sister". The tables had turned. My older sister was being referred to as "Orah's sister". Her name was only recognized, in reference to mine. I was now HER claim to fame.

The concept of "identity" can be such a complex matter, and can be dissected in so many different ways. On one hand, we all can lay claim to our own individual identity, as it only relates to ourselves.
I am female
I am an American
I am a nurse
I am a brunette
I am spiritual.

On the other hand, we can be identified by what or who it is we relate to.
I am a sister
I am a daughter
I am a Mother
I am a wife
I am a friend.

I do not know how this post has suddenly become a philosophical study, but the point is, whether or not I am identified in relation to a sibling or I am identified by the garbage one can find in the can in back of my house, it does not change who I am as an individual.

Each person who knows me, may interpret my identity differently, but the bottom line is
I am Orah.

6 have shown Orah a little love:

Zehava said...

Finally the long promised comment. :)

Your post really spoke to me, I feel like finding your own unique identity is a life-long pursuit (and very hard when the people around you have VERY strong personalities...)

Keep up the great blog!

Heidi @ Tayterjaq's Rebels said...

Very cool post. I never had any of those experiences but would have loved to trade places with you. I grew up as an only child and I always wanted to be part a large family. Now I have a brother who is 18 years younger than me (a mere 2 1/2 years older than my oldest daughter) and I am supposed to relate to him how?
I am glad you are you...cause I totally love your blog.

Orah said...

Thanks to both of you for your comments. After I posted this one, I was not sure if anyone would get it. I guess I underestimated my readers.

Anonymous said...

Deeeeeeeeep woman!! There are so many layers to my bud, Orah! Your philosophical jargin gets a little lost on the "blond" me. Just kidding, but seriously, u have a wonderful and unique way of looking at things and I totally appreciate u for that. Plus ur just as wacky and crazee as me so in my book, you are one cool chick..
Miss. S

elisha said...

I really liked this post. I often think about how I define myself and I still haven't figured it out.

Candice said...

I can sort of relate even though I only have 2 other siblings. They are 6 and 7 years older than I am, and all of my teachers definitely knew that I was the sister of John and Kristie and I should have a close eye kept on me.

It sucked! Ha!