Early this morning we set out. It was a sloppy and slow drive to the airport but the inconveniences of life are of no great consequence when you are in the right frame of mind. We were happy to be on the road, heading south into the sunshine and leaving the snow behind.
The Hubs and I have come to count on a March migration to tropical ports of call to restore the fabric of a relationship worn a bit thin over the course of a year. Work is hard; life is stressful. It has come to feel like a necessity, this one week afloat. However, this trip is sweeter still because my sister and her husband will join us for their first cruise. We are celebrating her fiftieth birthday and their thirtieth anniversary — milestones well worth marking. Did I mention she is my older sister? Sometimes that does come in handy.
The last vacation I remember together was in high school. We stayed a week or two at a small cottage on Cranberry Lake with gritty linoleum floors, lumpy mattresses and a faint smell of mildew. My family thought it was paradise and delighted in learning the secrets of the lake and exploring the surrounding woodlands. Breathing deeply in the balsam and pine, catching sunfish, learning to waterski, life was good. Yet I don’t recall a single event of that vacation specific to my sister.
I admired and respected my sister. She was three years older, much smarter and effortlessly successful, or so it seemed. As the eldest, she shouldered a lot of responsibility and hardly flinched. Still, we didn’t exactly get on. We pursued shared interests separately, if not competitively. We seldom shared clothes, or friends, or secrets. We did share a bedroom but drew a line down the middle of the bright orange carpet to keep the peace. Somehow she knew if I even breathed on her side. I was surprised that I cried when she left home after high school, but I did, I sobbed. I didn’t know when she’d come back, if she’d come back, and suddenly felt so alone.
She never really came back and our lives quickly moved on, consumed with the challenges young marriage and childrearing bring. But eventually our time did come, as it should for all sisters. Newfound freedoms and fresh perspectives of our forties ushered us into our complicated “middle place“, coalescing into precious opportunities to grow closer. Incompatibilities of decades past are now celebrated distinctions, just more reasons to be proud of her.
We’ve made up for a lot of lost time, my sister and I. And now, we’re buying time: a whole week together on vacation! We’ll laugh until our sides hurt, talk until we’re hoarse, and make great memories to last a lifetime, this time. Our cabana boys have promised to keep the frosty drinks flowing and sunscreen slathered on thick. What more could we ask?
So here we sit, the Hubs and I, enjoying a glass of vino and a cold brew, waiting for our people. Yay! There’s my sister!
P.S. Terri Hendrix gets it just right with her sweet Sister’s Song. Listen in…