We, as sisters—
We were blond-curled and brunette-topped, we were long and skinny, we were muscled, tight, wiry, and working, always working: to do better, be better, to please, to make happy, to make proud, to succeed, to show: we can do this, oh yes, we can, just you watch and see.
We were excited easily; we were rarely frightened—we were protected.
We were pink little girls, we were dirt-brown tomboys, we were bejeweled gypsies tripping in our mother’s wedged heels, tangled in our mother’s 1970s bangles and beads. We were taught how to weed and how to wash floors and how to clean windows and how to peel potatoes. We learned how to read poetry aloud (slowly, carefully, thoughtfully, honestly). We were young women, gowned, glistening, ripening, restless, ready.
We were athlete, equestrian, captain, dancer, tumbler, flutist, pianist, soprano, writer, poet, painter, rebel, social butterfly, senior prankster, collegiate graduate, master of English, a J.D. recipient, and, finally, mother to our own.
We were creative, brave, tenacious. We were confident: we weren’t afraid to own and deliver our authentic selves.
We were certain; we were, also, never so unsure.
We were sensitive, emotional, we were tear-streaked, we asked silent “why’s”, and we knew the answer was too sharp, too dangerous, too, too black and deep to wade out into alone, and so we were together, we were intertwined hands, we were braided hair and rubbed backs and heads resting on shoulders—we were the last pillars standing when the house fell.
We broke free, we blazed, and we left, and then we got lost, many times.
We told ourselves we needed to find our own way: sometimes on cut knees, with torn fingernails; sometimes in silk, with polish; sometimes in nothing but the skin over our bones; sometimes in the glory of victory, sometimes in the anguish of defeat; but always together, though, we were always together—
We, as single women—
We were confident we wouldn’t always be like this.
We were brazen in our confidence, actually, because we knew we were worthy, we were beautiful, smart, we were coy, we were not easy to catch; we were setting traps long before you took a nibble. We were engaging, friendly, witty, delightful. We were sexy. We were fresh, we were clean, we were perfumed and painted and poised, lips puckered.
We were so unfamiliar that we became fascinating—for a moment.
We were punching bags, we were stepping stones, we were test cases; we were one nights, we were rarely mornings. We were ignored; we were quieted by the echo of silence. We were rattled, we were worried, we were angry, we were sad, we were told to wait. We were struggling to bear the badge of Optimist.
We were wondering: why?
We were the ones our friends pitied, just a little, even though we were never so mean as to call them out plainly.
We were the ones who learned how to take care of ourselves, by ourselves. We were the ones who tended to our own lonely wounds. We were the ones who fought for, and gained, a great assurance of our greatness. We were the ones who knew: If I do not have this, embrace this, strengthen this, celebrate this self, I have nothing.
We were willing to remain romantics.
But, we were hungry. We were not waiting around for scraps. We were not here when you came back.
We were searching, hoping, climbing ever further, reaching ever higher, getting closer.
We were patient, we were kind; we were humbled by our loneliness, and we were willing to accept our need and our want, and we were truthful in saying so. We were full-lipped and full-hipped and full of the future.
Because we were happy, loved, appreciated—not by you, but by lucky others, to whom we had given our hearts and received theirs in return.
We, as yogis–
We were willing to do the good, honest work: of showing up to our mats and to the mirrors of our practice; of sweating, stretching, struggling, surviving; of letting go; of believing; of accepting we were not meant to be perfect; of forgiving you.
We were of breath and of body.
We were taught a faith without using a gospel, a choir, a mandate of right and wrong in the eyes of another.
We were the best of ourselves, and the worst of ourselves, but mostly, and most importantly, we were the unavoidable and amazing all of ourselves, and we were awash in the prayer of gratitude.
We, as lovers—
We were slow, deliberate, cautious, we were fearful of our own curiosity. We were clumsy; we tumbled.
We were talkers, we were walkers, we were swigging beer and trading stories and pocketing memories. We toppled tables with our heavy elbows and hardy conversations. We buckled at the knees. We were laughing, teasing, goading, gaming: whose turn is it this time?
We were surprised by one another.
We were wary of one another.
I think we knew: we were breaking one another, crack by crack.
We were letters; we were music; we were details; we were young; we were late-night discussions about movies or politics or literature or third-grade embarrassments or senior-year heartaches or college soul-searchings or early-twenty-something mistakes. We were trying to remember it all.
We were flirtation, we were stolen glances, we were tipsy on promises. We were friends fired through with lust.
We were bedsheets tangled, we were eyes open at sunrise, we were flush, we were arches, we were caved in, our walls covered, stained, in kisses. We were pressed against cars, curled into couches, laying atop the ceiling of the ocean. We were the long of it, the short of it, we went around the whole of it, and, still, we were wanting.
We were of the monuments and the mountains. We hiked through the woods; we drove through the country. We got lost in a bad, bullet-torn neighborhood once. We broke into empty houses; we brushed against the dream and quickly closed the shutters.
We fought, and we were both too weak with love to win, and so we lost and conquered each other’s heart instead.
We were sprawled on the banks of a river, hands beneath our heads, sun on our swollen lips, buried alive by the bright sky and the boundless hope of more of this. We were seasons unfolded, we were holidays, we were sugared and ballooned birthdays, we were beneath the mistletoe, we were mittened, we were sunburnt and salty, we shuffled through blooms and sand dunes and scorched leaves and snow; we rang in another New Year.
We were mighty road warriors. We were without a real home. We were without real possessions. We were never so full.
We were wrestled under by love.
And we bit back.
We were trying, we were reaching; we were closing in, we were pushing away—we were shrinking because we had outgrown the space we carved out for the “us” in our lives. We were shavings, we were splinters, we split open, we were strewn, like scraps.
We scattered; we were unsure what else to do.
We were the great loves, one day.
And then we were done, over, finished, filed to the past, folded into the drawer of the old cherry dresser in the bedroom of the house I no longer live in but pass through, from time to time, when I need to sit within the shadows, the cool comfort, the whispering memory, of those years we spent in the wild, wonderful company of our greatness, our gusto, our glory, the all of us, in our lovely, imperfect love.
As inspired by this.