It was last year sometime, I remember. I must have been picking on my older sister, Mariah, about her short height to show my sibling love, when it became obviously apparent that I had grown a great deal taller than her. Somehow the topic was stringed with Russian stature; apparently they’re enormous in Mariah’s eyes. Anyways, our height difference led to our other physical differentiations.
The first is obvious to anyone who has a pair of eyes; whereas my sister gained the tanner Native American genes of the large portion of our ancestry, I was born with a paler European coloring. This dissimilarity is one of Mariah’s supporting facts: some Russians are supposedly light-skinned.
I really don’t know how she comes up with these things…
Just to name off some of the last few… our eyes are diverse in shape and color; hers are dark and my own are hazel. She has an oval-shaped face that is mature, and mine has a child roundness. While her smile is a replica of my mother’s – big and bright – mine is softer and shy. Even our hair differs! Mariah has a thick, straight, dark hair, whilst I have lighter and wavy locks. All of these piloted my sister’s theory for insistent teasing that would later pave the road to the big shebang: I was adopted from Russia.
I have no idea what type she thinks I am though: Siberian is doubtlessly out of the question.
As time went on, it stuck. I’m known as The Russian to many people, and Mariah, that silly social butterfly, has even started introducing me as Natasha to her zillions of new friends she always seems to be making. [Enter dramatic sigh here] According to my dear sibling, that was my name before my mom and dad “renamed” me Amber.
One particular moment of this comic Russian rollercoaster stands out… Mariah, my baby brother, Hunter, and I go to a Vacation Bible School event every summer and have been for years. The three of us have known the leader of the annual occasion, Anita, since we were toddlers. She enjoys traveling up from the lower states, usually bringing some new people along to get the Alaskan experience, share the word of God, and help with the kids. Continuing with the story though, there were some new helpers. They obviously never met us, and Mariah took it as her chance to relay the theatrical tale.
Mariah and I had never out right told any of the original helpers that we were sisters, so when we mentioned it, they were a bit shocked.
My sister being my sister, shrugged carelessly while throwing me an inconspicuous and mischievous smirk, saying “Yeah, we adopted her from Russia.”
“Really?” Of course, they turned to me with newfound interest, inspecting my features and seeing the variation between her and me.
Deciding to play along, I just flashed them a quick smile as Mariah carried on, nodding. “Her name was Natasha, but we changed it to Amber.”
It was getting harder to fight off my laughter.
Adding the icing on the cake, she even went with one of her favorite lines: “I asked for a puppy, but instead, my parents came home with her.”
Anita was standing behind the spectators, shaking her head but begrudgingly grinning herself.
Our little audience that Mariah collected was a bit confused as to whether we were joking or not, but I guess we were a convincing duo seeing as I wasn’t objecting. So, bopping their heads in agreement, they responded with, “Cool.”
And just like that, they believed her. You know, until we burst into fits of mirth.
In the end though, perhaps I’ll forever be known as The Russian called Natasha, renamed Amber. It produces millions of memorable accounts... But those are stories for another day.