To my sister, who enters every room exactly as she wants to be.

Growing up, I would sneak into your room at night while you were sleeping, take your CDs, sneak back into my room, and listen to them until I fell asleep. I know – such a creepy way to start this thing. But remember – this was the 90s. No music streaming. When it came to discovering new music, I had four options:

  • Radio
  • MTV
  • Print publications
  • Sneaking into your room at night while you slept and taking your CDs

Anyway, here’s a comprehensive list of every CD I borrowed from your room (without asking):

The Cranberries – No Need to Argue

Sarah McLachlan – Surfacing

Tori Amos – Little Earthquakes

Tori Amos – From the Choirgirl Hotel

Live – Throwing Copper

Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill

The Black Crowes – The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion

It wasn’t until I listed all these out that I saw the pattern: mostly female artists. That means from an early age, I was unintentionally given a glimpse into the limitless kaleidoscope of female expression. I heard power, passion, and pain. I heard yearning, joy, fury, melancholy, toughness, and everything else on the spectrum of the human experience – all through a woman’s point of view. Did I understand all that as I listened? No, but I felt it.

And it gave me a wider lens to see you and the women around me.

I remember you took (or were forced to take) piano lessons. They must have started earlier than I can remember, because my memories of you playing are not “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” or “Chopsticks.” You would usually play from sheet music like “Somewhere Out There” or the theme from Far & Away.

But there was a song you would play occasionally that, at least in my mind, you composed yourself. There wasn’t sheet music; it was yours. Everytime you played it, no matter where I was in the house or what I was doing – I would stop and listen. It was sad and sweet, and had a wonder to it that made our house on Juniper St feel like the beginning of a bigger story.

When you left for college, I started sitting at the piano more often. At first, it was just the joy of figuring out how to play some of my favorite songs – but I kept coming back to yours. Because you didn’t write it down (and even if you had, I couldn’t read music), I had to piece it together from memory. So, I worked and worked until I could finally play it myself.

That very piano is now in my house, and every now and then I’m able to sit down and play your song. And hey, maybe my kids are listening the same way I did whenever you played – a small, sonic glimpse into another soul. And I can tell them that came from you, their Aunt Kate – my big sister.

So just like those CDs in the night, I borrowed your song. And now I can sleep.

-Ike Peters, 2024

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