Several weeks ago, I did something I have not done before in my entire adult life: I spent a day with my sister. Just us two, all husbands and children off in different places doing different things.
The logistics that made this possible were as complicated as one usually encounters in a 21st century over-scheduled middle class American lifestyle. To summarize as briefly as possible: both of my sister J.’s daughters had nearly-simultaneous events at a SUNY campus near me. M-the-younger was attending two weeks of music camp while M-the-older had freshman orientation that started a couple of days after music camp. Meanwhile my husband had to go to Albany and J.’s husband couldn’t get leave from his job to stay up north for an extra day. He came up with the family to deliver M-the-younger to camp, and hitched a ride back home with the family of another music camper. This left me, J., and M-the-older at my house Monday morning. After we delivered M-the-older to orientation, J. and I had most of a day and an evening to our own devices.
I should note at this point that the college’s orientation schedulers experienced my sister’s formidable determination and persistence in the weeks leading up to her trek northward. The desired orientation session was full, and it was the only one that dovetailed with music camp. J. requested that room be found, and in the end the college agreed to squeeze M-the-older into this particular session. My money was on her all along.
First stop of the day: delivering M-the-older to freshman orientation. Ah, memories - my own freshman orientation was at the same institution more than 40 years ago. Here she is, poring over her schedule in the dorm room. She’s been to music camp there for the past few years, so she already felt right at home on the campus.
After walking M to her first stop, we set off to spend some time together - which meant shopping. J. loves to shop. I do, too, but I look much more than I buy. We did our part to support the local economy, with stops at a couple of stores I especially love. As we went along, I realized that there was a pattern to my sister’s purchases. She bought a couple of items for herself, but they were well discounted sale items. Almost everything she bought was a gift - for her husband, her daughters, a dear friend. She also bought a gorgeous skein of hand-dyed silk yarn for my daughter, as a college graduation gift. So I gave her a couple of gifts along the way - fabric and a pattern to make a patchwork tote bag at the wonderful yarn and fabric shop, and American Gods by Neil Gaiman. She’s a major Neil fan and has a collection of The Sandman comics, but she had never read this book. I also bought some handmade chocolates for us to share that evening.
We also stopped by the public radio station. My sister is music director and classical announcer for a classical public radio station, and she enjoyed talking with her counterparts about what is happening in the world of NPR. I enjoyed listening. She's a pro who delivers quality to the ears that listen in her city, and it's a pleasure to witness a bit of the wheels that turn behind the sound.
What do two adult sisters do on an evening when they are alone together? In our case, we talked. We watched a chick flick (The Namesake, and we liked it. It was good to clear that Netflix pic, which had lanuished by the TV unwatched for weeks). We ate chocolate and microwave popcorn. We talked some more. We stayed up entirely too late.
I hope we get to do this again someday. I don’t quite know why it took us so long to do it for the first time.
I love you, J.