On a glorious sun-soaked day in New York City, three sisters met in the chaos, calamity, crowds, hustle, and bustle of New York City.
These three sisters had not seen each other in a year. They normally did not see each other for a year—partly because their lives were abundantly overly busy, but mainly because of the roots and the multitude of complicated emotional layers involved with their parents that led to an unspoken agreed annual meeting based on familial responsibility and the ties that bind.
However, this meeting was unlike any other, for it was a meeting without any of their parents involved and/or physically present.
One sister was my older biological sister. Looking chic as always in black sunglasses and chunky jewelry, she asked aloud: “Where is this bar again?”
I had to chuckle internally because she was the one who had originally set up this meeting, found the place, and had even made the reservation.
My biological sister was 7 years older than me. She was a worldwide traveler and adventurer that possessed this wandering spirit and zest flowing in her. Growing up, I thought she was just a much taller playmate to dance and sing to 1980’s legends of Madonna and Whitney Houston every now and then. By the time I could understand that she was my sister, she was out of the house and I basked in this believed only child role. We were raised by the insight and guidance of our ever-grinning, philosophical, and scientific father who is now 68 years younger and all the wiser.
My younger half-sister was glued to her iPhone 6 to read the map and decipher the directions to the bar. She said calmly, “Oh, it is right around this corner on 5 avenue.”
I raised my eyebrows. I never knew she was so good with directions, or, at least, reading a map on an iPhone to figure it out. I guess this was no surprise considering the tech-aged generation and ways of living that she grew up in.
This other younger half-sister is 13 years younger than me. I remember when I was 13-years-old and held her in my arms for the first time, glowing in the role of an older sister. We had sisterhood adventures when we roamed New York City to endlessly eat and explore and another one-time sleepover at my apartment after going to an Ingrid Michaelson concert and then waking up to go to a Church to sing hymns. She was raised by her father and our biological mother who were ingrained with faith and prayers that I somewhat wavered over when my biological mother left and am gaining on my own now in life.
At least two steps lagging behind these two sisters was me. Short legs and joint issues always had me physically behind everyone. I am the sister who went from believing I was an only child to the facts that I am a biological younger sister (or youngest sister), older half-sister, and quasi-middle sister between my older biological sister and younger half-sister. I am actually the sister who wanted and craved a brother just for the fun and experiences. I am the sister that is more than a sister, but aren’t we all more than just the titles and roles that we are born into? Titles are untitled when unfulfilled anyhow.
The bar was downstairs and on the lowest level of a sophisticated and overly expensive per night hotel. The bar was hidden behind a heavy secret passageway of a door that revealed complete darkness with extremely dim lit rounded candles and hanging energy-saving and tiny lights.
We spent miniscule time pouring over the menu of non-alcoholic drinks (after all, my half-sister was not even 21-years-old now) and plates of meats and cheeses. We spoke little about our parents and spoke all the more about our lives in motion in the last year, which revolved around work/jobs, school, and activities. We did not speak of the past or the future when we were present in each other’s presence, although we knew very well how much the past had deeply affected our present relations with each other as sisters.
At least, it was this way for me. I was deeply affected by my relations with my two sisters that have most definitely led into my relations with friends and strangers. In this one reunion of us meeting for the first time with only the three of us, I could now see that the world of having siblings, sisters, and a sisterhood was a privileged and unique one that was formed by our parents and how they had raised each of us. Only siblings have the insight into what it is like growing up and being raised by the same parents, but in dissimilar methods and ways based on how each of us as individuals are in differing personalities and life experiences.
We were three sisters who had the same mother, but different fathers. All with dark eyes and even darker hair that only lightened slightly in the sun. All with dissimilar skin shades, almond-eye size and shapes, height, and hair textures. Same mother that I had for 8 years of my life, about 15 years of my older biological sister’s life, and 19 years of my younger half-sister’s life. Although our personalities were completely unlike each other, there were startling similarities that went beyond the scope of the same genetic make-up from our mother. It amazes me that we come from the same maternal gene pool, yet we could not be all the more different, yet similar, from each other.
The sun light was fading and revealing smoggy swirls of colors of the sun soon setting. We exchanged hugs, gifts, and words of: “Yes, we will keep in touch!” or “Yes! Do not let so much time pass again until we see each other again!”
Before I knew it, as quick as I had taken the train ride in to New York City for all of us to meet, it was even quicker to end. All the feelings were indescribably bouncing around in me like invisible atoms that were clamoring to be seen, heard, and, most of all, understood. I was quiet on the train ride home while my older sister was talking away and poking at me to hear my views on our time together.
When I was still locked in my silent zone that was not about to unlock anytime soon, she finally ended by saying: “Well, the best thing that Mom ever did was have the three of us. We will still be sisters and still have each other as we get old in life. ”
Yes, I would have to say, this was true. And, I felt and was grateful. I am grateful. What had seemed an ending when my parents divorced and my biological mother literally left has manifested into an extremely slow start of new expanding horizons and relations with both my sisters. My gratitude for both sisters stemmed from how our parents had raised us and have led me to see that siblings and sisters have taught me that I am still learning about sharing, giving, communicating, and working things out. From both sisters, I realize that siblings are the starting points to such emotions as jealousy, envy, responsibility, confusion, love, and hate that affect us in our later relations. Alongside these emotions are the slammed doors, screaming matches, shaking heads, and the symphony of sighs, laughter, tears, joy, and silence. I would never trade any of these emotions or experiences with my sisters for they have catapulted me forward in life with people who have come, gone, and stayed.
I could not imagine my life without having a sibling, nor would I want to, for it has brought me all the more and new perspectives, understandings, and interpretations about people and where they come from and who they are. I could not imagine being an only singular child with only my parents. It is not that I feel sorry for only children. It is just a very strong understanding now about the varying vast dynamics of only children and having siblings. Though the experiences, emotions, and interpretations are different for each sibling and person, only siblings can understand the ever-evolving plight that parents endure to raise their children.
It has taken me 33 years to now say that I am content to have siblings and sisters that have given me gifts that have added so much to my life. Do you have siblings? How do you feel it has affected you? Or, have you ever believed or wanted to just be an only child if you are not? Or, if an only child, did you ever want a sibling?
On this day, these three sisters met for their annual meeting. No parents physically present, but the roots of their parents and how they raised and brought up each sister/each person were already there as the building blocks and beyond. On this day, one year of these three sisters’ lives were crammed into no more than three hours together with every hidden and unspoken hope and happiness to have each other and to see each other for more than three hours and more than once a year to come.
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,