This is part 3a in a series of “Family” posts. For the previous post, click here
I don’t know why a post about my sisters is so hard to write. I’ve had a draft sitting around for weeks. It’s been easier to follow tangents about Willy Wonka, and long-dead English poets (two of them!) than to complete this one. Maybe it’s because I see so much of myself reflected in my sisters. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a landmark trip, like the one with my brothers to the Sierra Nevada, with all of my sisters. There are plenty of memorable visits and trips with my sisters, but they are all individual.
In the earlier drafts, I kept lumping my sisters together as a class, which is confusing if you don’t know them. I realized I needed to introduce them. Thus the decision to break up this post into two parts. Technically, my brothers got two posts, so this seems even-handed. Because believe me, my family—particularly my sisters—pay attention to stuff like that.
My brother Stephen got his own introduction, and then my other brothers got a single post. I wrote this about Jerry and David:
. . . my relationship with each of them is unique in the ways that we are unique. We relate on different topics, I have different inside jokes with each of them.
The same applies to each of my sisters, another reason it’s difficult to refer to them as a class. So, since movies and family are recurring themes in this space, I thought a blending of the two may be a good way to start. The movies and television shows listed are either the most oft-quoted between me and that sibling, or most viewed together, or most firmly affiliated in memory, or some combination thereof.
My sister Elizabeth (known as Debby within the family—long story) is the firstborn. She’s lived in New York for more than thirty years now. The movies I associate with her are actually from the era when she made that move, the earlier part of the 1980s. Our movies are Ladyhawke, and a made-for-TV version of The Scarlet Pimpernel, starring Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymour.
Julie is the absolute middle, number four of seven. She’s lived in Texas for more than twenty years. Our movies are the 2005 version of Pride & Prejudice (with Keira Knightley) and all The Lord of the Rings movies. (and Star Trek, too).
Susan is number five—she and Julie are only seventeen months apart in age. Susan is deeply rooted in New Orleans. She and I have been keeping the NOLA-home lamp lit (for the sisters) ever since I moved back thirteen years ago. She and I have Dirty Dancing, and The Six Million Dollar Man (with Lee Majors!) Also, Jeopardy! (when our schedules allow it).
And to not give my brothers short shrift, here are their movies / TV shows: Jerry is Apollo 13 and Armageddon (Die Hard, too). David is pretty much any martial arts film produced in Hong Kong from 1978 to 1982, and Star Trek. Stephen would have to be . . . Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day.
I wrote that I don’t recall any particular rivalry between myself and my brothers. I can’t say the same for my sisters. While I can only speak for myself, I think we still each hold ourselves up to some sort of sisterly standard. Which seems kind of silly as adults, but I’m as guilty as charged.
Even the movie associations above could cause some debate. While I listed Julie for The Lord of the Rings, pretty much everyone in the family would know LOTR references, save one: Susan. She’s never been a sci-fi or fantasy fan, and this puts her squarely in the minority. I’ve always respected that. I’m probably even a little envious of how it sets her apart.
I made the mistake once, of sending out a joke via email; I don’t remember the particulars, but it was a LOTR reference. Something to do with second breakfast or elevensies. I sent it pretty broadly within the family—including Susan’s daughters—but failed to include Susan.
That did not go over well. I tried to explain that the only reason I excluded her was because I knew she wasn’t a fan of the movies. Husband Tim wasn’t even included on the thread, because he HATES The Lord of the Rings.
Still no joy.
So there you go. For better or worse, this set of four sisters seems to hold each other against some set of standards. Not impossible standards, mind you, but standards all the same.
Next week—Sisters, Part 2: The Dragon Measure