November 13, 2011
Children of the same family, the same blood, with the same first associations and habits, have some means of enjoyment in their power, which no subsequent connections can supply…
~Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, 1814
On Friday, my sister Erika and I got together to kick off Veteran’s Day weekend. We haven’t spent a day together in a long time, so it was long overdue. We’re both very busy with teaching (I work as an English teacher, she works as a Special Education teacher) and we’re both newlyweds, so we sort of lose track of each other. It’s rather sad that we were in better contact before she moved down to San Diego. Now she lives in the same neighborhood, and we’re lucky if we see each other once a month!
Erika came over early, around 8:00 in the morning, and we both grabbed a cup of coffee and sat on the couch and gabbed. As always, we shared stories from work, married life, and then moved on to the more emotional topic: family.
We are planning our trip up to Sacramento for Christmas, and it might be kind of awkward as I haven’t spoken to my dad in a few months. Make that six months. He doesn’t call me and I don’t call him. This happens every year and then we see each other at Christmas, catch up on each other’s life (well, my life), and act like there’s nothing wrong. I am sick of this sham.
I’m not even sure I want to see him. Maybe I’ll just spend the whole time at my mom’s house. But, that’ s just silliness, I know–what I need to do is be a grown-up, put my big girl pants on, and talk to him about our fractured relationship. Something’s got to change. It’s been weighing on me, not just for months, but for years, not speaking to Dad.
Erika nodded her head knowingly when I explained this to her:
Me: Have you ever noticed that when we’re fighting with Mom or each other or haven’t talked to Dad in a while, that even if we get on with life, it’s always there. Always in the background of our life. It’s like, being so close as a unit growing up, we developed into this one being–each of us is a part of a whole. When one piece is missing, we don’t feel whole anymore. I’m not 100% without you guys in my life. It’s always been that way.
Well, things almost got sobby there, so, after that discussion, we decided we were hungry and wanted to check out some used book stores. Erika was looking for a copy of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist. I advised her against Rosemary’s Baby as the book is exactly the same as the movie. Waste of time if you’ve already seen the movie! Unfortunately, neither used bookstore we visited had a copy of either. So, we returned home after lunch.
We still had lots of time to enjoy each other’s company, so we decided to talk a walk down to a local independent bookstore, The Grove, to see if I could find myself a journal. It was a 20-minute walk, and though we started off chilly, by the time we arrived at the store we were both sweating. I was wearing boots with ill-fitting socks and could feel little blisters forming on the balls of my feet.
However, I was revived as soon as we entered the shop. I was delighted to find so many wonderful bookish items to add to my Christmas wish list! They had some lovely candles that were inspired by classic authors–Whitman is scented of grass, Poe is scented with absinthe, Austen with tuberose. I loved them! If you’re looking for a bookish gift like this, click the above picture for a link to the Paddywax Library Candles website. I also found a 5-year journal called Jane-a-Day, where each page has 5 short entry spaces for the writer to record a sentence or two about the day, each page accompanied by a Jane Austen quote. The idea is that you go through the book once every year until at five years you have an entry filled in each space, having chronicled every day for five years. Very cool! I ended up buying a small journal for recording blog ideas and a copy of Olive Kitteridge to read for the Award-Winning Challenge (it’s a Pullitzer winner).
We walked back home. My feet were killing me and Erika was wishing she hadn’t brought a heavy coat. Despite my discomfort, Erika told me a few things that gave me a thrill. First, she told me that my blog has inspired her to read again (she’s been in a dry spell for a while); that I have made reading sound so pleasurable. The best compliment ever! Also, she confided that she and her husband are considering writing their own blog as well. So, I gave her some ideas, and once we got home, I shared some of my favorite blogs of varying types with her. It sounds like she is deciding between a photography blog, a movie blog, a music blog, or an all-of-the-above blog. I’m very excited for them and hope they pursue this!
Shortly after our return, she went to her own home, and I felt wonderfully giddy. I greeted my husband with a warm smile when he got home from work, happily volunteered to pick up some take-out for dinner, and simply felt content for the rest of the evening.
I am so lucky to have my sister. I’m only a fraction without her and I can’t wait until our next get-together so I can fill myself up all over again!
Erika won't let me post a new picture. Boo.