On the Delights of Sisterhood


(PHILIPPINES, Samar) The author (L) with her younger sister (R).

So, I attended a friend’s wedding yesterday where my younger sister, Elaine, also happened to be one of the bridesmaids. Now, it’s always immensely fun to be at events that have either or both of my siblings included (an outcome that no one would have anticipated when we were children given the hostility or indifference we felt towards each other during this period). I was surrounded by friends, but many of my favorite moments of the event happened in the company of Elaine.

There was, for instance, monopolizing the photo booth for possibly a third of an hour exercising our facial muscles in expressions that, I would frankly admit, only our mother could love. Then there was standing at the buffet table and sampling items off the other’s plate to determine which dishes should merit a disproportionate amount of abdominal space. Then there were all the occasions Elaine would materialize behind me unannounced and eat my dessert without ceremony. (My shoes are killing me and the buffet’s too far away, she told me matter-of-factly. So I thought I’d go to your table instead and eat your pudding and your panna cotta.)

That Elaine does these things with complete nonchalance is one of the things I love best about being with her. I’m more accustomed to people relating to me with reserve, formality or caution—a fact that may have something to do with the scowl that unfortunately serves as my default expression (among other things)—so I enjoy it immensely when that customary aloofness is absent. Elaine is one of the very few people in the world with whom I can be myself—spikes and all—without having to worry about incurring collateral damage or eternal dislike.  

And while it’s true that family are the people who will have to accept one fully—if only because one can’t deselect one’s relations in the same way one can deselect one’s friends and lovers—that acceptance can be grudging as well as wholehearted. To my immense and completely unmerited good fortune, I belong to the latter case.

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