Sunday, February 15, 2009


I'm sitting with E on the floor at the coffee table, helping her to write her thank you notes for her birthday gifts. I'm using a pen. She's using a rainbow of crayons. I have no manicure, and purple toenails. But she has dark blue toenails, light blue toenails, and a pink and purple manicure. I'm wearing jeans and a sweater. She's wearing underpants, a Dora bandaid, and eight strands of Mardi Gras beads like a tribal chestplate.

I don't remember thank you notes ever being so cool. Pin It

The secret life of sisters

We're in the most ordinary place. We're in the family room; we're on the couch. They're nose to nose. They're conversing, even though only one of them really speaks. I'm right here, I'm fundamentally part of this triad, but I'm an outsider. L is nursing (from me). But her sister, who's sitting just next to me so we're touching in a line from our shoulders to our knees, she's L's focus. She's L's pillow.

They're nose to nose. They're the goblet illusion. A Rorschach blot. A double helix reflecting pool: forehead, nose and chin. L's eating, but it's the game they're playing that immerses them. E lifts the blanket over both their heads. They giggle and I can't see them. She drops the blanket and they giggle again. It's not a peekaboo for my benefit; so often their games have a two beat pattern -- up beat Action, down beat Look Up for Attention. But in this game they don't even look at me at all.

They make sounds to each other, not words, but certainly talking. They have so little need of language with each other. Yet they are deep in soulful conversation. I feel like a trespasser, like I'm watching a foreign language movie, but nobody ran the English dub reel.

They're tented under the purple blanket, and when E unveils them I ask what game they're playing. She speaks to me patiently, bemused, a little frustrated I've broken the spell, but with a worldly understanding, it seems to me, that I'm forgiven for not having been able to help it. I'll never shed my outsider status, and so she doesn't hold the Charter of the Sisterhood against me. But her answer illustrates what in that moment I was already reminded, anyway: it's a special world unto them and I'm consigned to a residency on the other side of the looking-glass.

We're having a tea party in our tree house.

It didn't make any sense to me, but obviously, I had to console myself, it wasn't supposed to, since it wasn't meant for me at all. Pin It