“The only person I’d run through an airport for is you.”
It was that killer line in the final episode of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag that pushed me to be sat here now, thinking about the great love of my life; my sister.
Not unlike the rest of the nation, I was sad to wave goodbye to another magnificent season on Monday night. As the credits came on screen, I scrolled through twitter, drinking in the countless hot-takes on all of Fleabag’s disastrous relationships.
But ever since the first series, my ultimate nod of understanding to the mangled life of our beloved Fleabag was always for her tumultuous relationship with her sister Claire.
I myself have a sister, but unlike Fleabag, it is I who is the older “super high-powered” sister who Fleabag spends an entire episode insulting, annoying and generally abusing. Claire is the straight-laced, boring and immaculately dressed antithesis of Fleabag, and sadly Claire is also me.
Much like Claire, I have prioritised my career over my relationships and have become one of those awful people who think talking about work is a replacement for a personality. I dress like a straight-laced nerd, I only really care about my job and I have a wonderful younger sister who, in my own weird way, I would do absolutely anything for.
Granted, my relationship with my sister has never crossed into her covering for my miscarriage, but I did once try (and fail) to prevent my parents from seeing the trail of humongous lovebites she had accrued in the first term at uni. And in return, when I, like Claire, cut all my hair off after a break-up into the most horrific attempt at a pixie cut, my sister simply said: “It doesn’t even look that bad, get over yourself.”
I love my sister. She’s wonderful. But part of my love and care for her is berating her for making bad life choices and forcing my success on her in a weird act of loving dominance. I noticed this when Claire was chastising Fleabag for owning a café compared to her own financial success. It was tough love, but it was also arrogance and Claire left Fleabag feeling dejected and a little bit like a failure.
It’s tough right? Being the big sister is a hard gig! But I can admit that I make it a million times harder for the bucket loads of pressure I throw myself under in the guise to be the ‘perfect, responsible older sister’. I want my sister to do well and I use my tales of success to push her towards what I think success is.
But what both myself and Claire have realised on our own journeys, is that sometimes our idea of success isn’t for everyone, and sometimes it isn’t even really what we dream of for ourselves.
As the second season drags on, it is Fleabag who begins to bring Claire out of her shell. She pushes her to pursue love in all the wrong places. Fleabag saves Claire from a lifetime of misery by forcing her to break free of her boundaries and live a life that hasn’t been planned meticulously since birth. Both Claire’s and Fleabag’s defences slowly slip and it is only through the support and love they give each other that they can begin to find happiness for themselves.
Sometimes it’s OK to let your little sister help you navigate through life and sometimes, but only sometimes, she might actually know what’s best for you. Love comes in all kinds of forms but sometimes it is only the rawest kind of sibling love that can pull you out of your slump and back to life again. Watching myself through the lens of Claire on Fleabag taught me that actually, sometimes just letting your sister be her own person can be the most nurturing gift you can give her.
So to my sister, the only person who’d run through an airport for... is you.