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It's seven in the morning and all I can smell is hairspray. I force myself to peel open my eyes even though I barely got any sleep the night before. All I see at first is the dark, curly wig topping my older sister's head. Then I see her body. Nothing much, just you're typical seventeen-year-old girl wearing a white sweatshirt and yoga pants. I didn't even bother to look at her legs. Even if they were uncovered I'd still know exactly what they'd look like: toned, half-covered with a sparkly white "poodle" sock, and orange. Not like the fruit itself, but like some combination of an Oompa Loompa and one of the members of the cast of Jersey Shore.
I couldn't tell what she was doing, and I really didn't care. This day was just like all the others-- an early morning rise, eat, put on the wig, put on the makeup, glue the socks to the legs, grab the dress, grab the shoes, and leave for what seemed to be the longest day of your life.
This wasn't your typical competition day, though. No, today is the day of the Oireachtas (pronounced o-ROCK-tas). All that really means is the Mid-Western Irish Dance Championships (trust me, once you know the word it's easier to say). I knew how this day would go. My sister, Therese would dance her heart, something bad would happen (whether it comes before, during, or after, there's always Oireachtas drama), and then she'd be crushed by the fact that she didnt recall... yet again.
I had grown up with this world. I wasn't a dancer, but I was still largely a part of it. If I wanted to, I'd get up early to drive downtown Chicago, and have the above scenario occur. Don't be mistaken by my tone-- I loved this.
It was just always recurring. Every year she wouldn't make it. Every year I'd have to watch my mouth for three days so that she didn't feel bad. Every year. Just once, I wanted her to win something for a change. As a sibling of a dancer, this point is often misunderstood. I sound negative about it, but the truth is, I just wanted her to feel accomplished.
It's not as though Therese had little to be proud of, however. She was pretty, got great grades, and I've at sometimes wanted to be her. It made me mad that one of my role models could accomplish so much, but fail at what she loved most, I guess.
Several months after the Oireachtas, Therese was in Ireland. No, she didn't recall, but she had won enough first place trophies in her career to qualify for their national competition. So, she saved her money and went with friends-- a typical Therese move.
It was quite an uneventful week for me. One night, however, I can remember vividly. All I smelled was hairspray. It was strong, and filled my lungs from the inside out. It choked me, gagged me, and made me jolt awake. It was just the feeling I wanted a 4:30 in the morning on a school day. I tried getting back to sleep, but the only thing I could think about was the ever-so-familiar dark, curly wig. It bounced when she danced. I couldn't really describe it, but it was almost as though each of those curls did their own dance. Which was surprising considering how much hairspray was put on them.
After the longest and most tiresome day of school, I return home to my mom talking on the phone. "Who was that?" I asked as she hung up.
"It was your sister."
"She got a recall medal in both of her dances." By now my mom couldn't contain her happiness. I couldn't believe it. The girl goes to another country without us, and accomplishes what she's always dreamed of. Figures.
I didn't know what to feel in that situation, but I know what was on my mind-- the sharp, fruity smell of hairspray.