Over Independence Day weekend I visited my sister in Virginia who is 14 months younger than I. We have a lot in common — not the least of which is a rural upbringing, two sister siblings and our parents. We were both young mothers and then non-traditional students. We succeeded against considerable odds in attaining college degrees — and she even more than I. We took A. Big. Trip. to celebrate her success in 2012. We both love our chids and adore our grandchids with all of our hearts and are crazy proud of them. There are lots more characteristics we share, but you get the gist.
However our pathways diverged fairly early and dramatically. She’s lived in several states, from east to west coast, and abroad; I’ve never lived anywhere but the North Country. She completed her degree in a medical field; mine was in education. Her career is high stakes and pressurized (medical care to cancer patients); mine is in education (no life-or-death decisions, thankfully). She’d like to travel for work; I’d like to travel less for work! She’s been a city girl most of her adult life; I’m a country bumpkin.
We don’t look much alike and our personalities are also quite different; I love to remind her that she has mom’s spunk! But all that really matters now is how much we enjoy spending time together. My get-away to visit her in Virginia was embarrassingly long overdue. It was fun to just be together — in her adorable new home and picturesque neighborhood, visiting where she works and worshipping in her wonderful church.
Our long weekend was not long enough and jam packed with activities, including Busch Gardens fireworks, Hampton Harbor boat tour, antique shopping, delicious food and drink. We stumbled upon an excellent brunch at Mango Mangeaux, an ubercool bistro spun out of Shark Tank fame. (You know how I love orange!) Breakfast with Amanda at Food Craft was also amazing — both her friend and the food. We started with the Scotch eggs, which I’d never heard of but highly recommend.
One more thing we have in common, it’s safe to say, is that neither fancy ourself an artist. So what were we doing in the middle of our weekend in the middle of a Bob Ross paint night at a downtown Hampton block party? Among other things, we were straining to hear the instructor lead us through the wet-on-wet technique made famous on PBS. (If you’ve ever heard of Bob, you know about his happy trees.) The instructor’s voice was barely audible over the Deloreans playing 80s tunes on the perimeter of park as the festival kicked into high gear all around.
Somehow, we both turned out reasonably respectable art — in two hours, no less. My sister was much better with shadows. I developed more distinctive light. They both look decent until you take a close look at the original we were trying to copy. It has so much more detail and definition — of course!
I left my masterpiece in Virginia to dry properly and brought only photos home. Then I had the “brilliant” idea to create a composite image of hers and mine. It wasn’t an original idea because yes, there is an app for that. I call the end result Sister Vista. It is an apt reflection of she and me: similar in so many ways, simultaneously unique in other ways, and even better together.
~ René Morley