I have understood the beauty of sisterhood – on some level – all my life. I have two sisters, went to a girls’ school for most of elementary all the way through high school, and have some powerful lifetime friendships with kickass women. But it has been a very long time since I’ve lived with women – not counting my daughter who, somewhere along the way, went from girl to woman.
Recently I spent seven days with 8 women in St. Martin. There were nine of us there to share our love for a friend who celebrated her 50th birthday last month. Nine is such a powerful number – standing sturdily on a triad within a triad it is as invincible as the trinity cubed. 50 is such a powerful number too – so full of life lived. At 50 we have arrived, but we also have so far still to go. Nine celebrating 50 was blessedness.
The nine of us arrived on a Wednesday afternoon and two jeeps, one candy red and one lemon yellow, waited for us. We used them to zoom off to our island aerie. Well, we zoomed cautiously, as the island is riddled with speed bumps. Once there, we stripped off all semblance of where we came from and eased into the pool holding goblets of rum punch. For the next seven days, we were together. We played, ate, talked, explored, talked, swam, drank, laughed, talked, laughed, cried, and played –together— in seamless, effortless camaraderie. Oh and we talked a LOT. And laughed. Did I mention that?
We didn’t have to cook – David took care of that when he arrived at the house every day at around 6 to prepare flawless meals for us. We didn’t have to clean up, plan, shop, or set an alarm. We were –yes, spoiled. But no! I reject that. Spoiling implies doing damage to someone through overindulgrence – undeserved indulgence.
Not only did we deserve every stress free day, we were far from damaged by the process. We healed, inside and out. As working women and mothers, all 9 of us know the constant pull of things to do and plan – what am I making for dinner, I have to call that client while Billy is at the orthodontist, can I get the laundry into the dryer before I go pick up child number 1, 2, or 3 at school or drop off child number 2, 3, or 4 at hockey practice?
Responsibility is a constant thread in our lives. Worry, or at least concern, about those responsibilities is a drumbeat that we don’t recognize until it is gone. Most people go on vacation just to think about stopping at the grocery store or herding the troops in a new location. There is always something refreshing about being somewhere different, but the background music of “things to do and plan” is constant and unrelenting.
There was not one single moment of “things to do and plan” while we lived in the now-bubble of the Caribbean. Hours could go by as we floated in the pool – several of us or all of us, bobbing like buoys in the gentle blue water. Some of us might sit on pool-sunk stools at a pool-bar kind of thing where we could be immersed in the water while we drank a wine spritzer or noshed on cheese and grapes. High sun gave way to long shadows as we circled the pool, emerging, sunning on chaises, reentering, as conversation ebbed and flowed. We kvetched, we cried, we said “I love you” to one another.
Many days found us on a beach. About half of us were sun-worshippers. The other half stayed in the shade of beach umbrellas, set up for us ahead of time by beach boys with whom we would shamelessly flirt as we ordered food and drinks on the shore. Most of us wound up topless at some point, realizing the true liberty of a culture that neither demonizes nor worships naked breasts.
Long lunches and longer dinners were luxuries of connectedness and proof that we had nowhere else to be. I found the openness of time to be very comforting. I often went off by myself, to read in the hammock or write under the roof of the sprawling outdoor dining room that opened to the pool, the open-air kitchen, and the view to the sea. I never worried about missing something, falling behind, or being out of the loop. The loop was a cocoon that embraced and held us all. Even when one of us was outside the immediate close circle, we were all “looped in” to that circle.
Was it the luxurious relaxation that made the sisterhood seem so important? No, of course not. We could live in sisterhood anywhere, at any time. But having literally nothing pulling on us allowed us the gift of time and space to focus on ourselves and one another fully. FULLY. I remember it now, sitting here at my computer. The total focus on us.
One of our members had a saying she’d call out joyfully whenever moved to do so: “I love us!” We all loved us.
Showing up to dinner as dressed up or down as we wanted, braless under summer dresses, with or without pearls, with or without shoes, we could banter, cry, drink wine, groan with pleasure at the next course, laugh without holding in our bellies. And we learned that…sisterhood is freedom. Sisterhood is dirty feet and afternoon naps and the comfort of loving each other’s children. Sisterhood is when someone puts sunscreen on us so carefully that we could not have done it better ourselves. Sisterhood is dancing to one another’s play lists, reading tarot for each other, and fixing each other drinks “while we’re up.”
Sisterhood is the easy comfort of being ourselves for ourselves, and for each and every sister whose direct, loving gaze mirrors us to a T. I realized it’s easier to be me with 8 women than it is to be me with one man. Maybe this reveals my own issue. But it also is proof positive that sisterhood is home.