a piece I wrote for Free People:
My sister and I are sitting in a small idyllic cafe in Venice. It is early evening and outside the pale blue day is starting to darken, while our tangerine pink “spritz’s” are glowing like lamplight. We are both crying. The sweet family of four sitting next to us is trying not to notice. But we are really crying—the kind of cry a lifetime produces. We are crying for the 28 years we have known and loved and battled each other. We are talking about all of it. All the tricky bits, the painful parts, the stuff you avoid because it’s deep and it hurts. The struggle to connect, the desire to understand, the attempt to hold space for the difference, and the corresponding failure to do so. The tenderness that comes with loving someone you don’t always know how to love best. And it is beautiful. I mean really, life is made for these moments. Two American women, in Italy, crying in a cafe. Two women sharing the same mother, the same father, the same brothers, the same history and yet, different memories of it all, both valid in their contrast. The contrast gives shape to the truth of our hearts. And to have those shared, but dissimilar memories, this is the gift of a sister. That perspective, that sometimes tough love, that hard truth. But ultimately is it love, such a tremendous love. I know the color of your pain, and the weight of your journey, the brightness of your joy. You are my sister, we are so alike, and so different, and here we are together celebrating it all.
And how does this long overdue cry come about? Simple really, we took a trip together. We met in Berlin, and then traveled to Munich, the Alps, Venice and finally Vienna. All in 9 days, all by train. An ambitious adventure for two ambitious women. A guaranteed meltdown. Humans of the earth, is there something you’re aching to abstract? Take a trip. A relationship you’re trying to get to the bottom of, take a trip together. Go somewhere foreign. Have jet lag. Pack too much into too short a time. Travel a good distance. Get lost, and argue over directions, so hungry looking for a restaurant you can both agree on. Let the pressure build, the annoyance arch, and then, order a Campari spritz. Cheers to what comes next. The truth. Openness that familiar places, familial spaces, old patterns and bad habits have kept at bay. You are in a new and unknown terrain, open to roaming, slightly delirious from trying to steal much needed sleep while in transit. It is the perfect recipe for a breakdown, a letting down of walls, a peek into the private parts of ourselves we haven’t known yet how to share. Be a witness to each other’s crumbling, hold each other in the rubble, and I dare you not to either never want to see that person again, or to love them more than you thought you could. I love you more now, Heather, and I loved you so much before.
You are my little sister, but you have grown. You are such a beautiful woman. You stand so tall even though you are shorter than me. You hold such strength and grace in your quieter way. I know I was loud. It must have been hard to find a space to speak. But you spoke nonetheless. And your voice is so powerful. And I am so proud you are my sister. And I am proud of you for hoping and hopping across the pond to share this magnificent adventure with me. Your courage inspires me, as I hope to inspire you. That we can inspire each other. That we can see each other. That we may be a mirror for how beautiful we both are. Such is the gift of a sister. How wonderful it is to call you mine.