That summer was so much fun, mostly because it was the last – really, only – summer of Eldest Sis and mine, at least in the context of being my soul-sister.
It’s funny looking back now, how much has literally changed in such a short span of time; 3.5 years and she’d broken up with her longtime love of 10 years then, hit a slump for an entire year as she nursed her broken heart, fell right back into love, got married and now a mother to an adorable baby girl. In the many eventful period of her life, a brief and magical interlude took place quietly but eventfully, for three full months.
It was summer, 2010.
I remember her as many things, but most of all, the person who is always there for me. She still is and we’re still closer than ever but we acknowledge that times and situations are different now. She is seven years older and as a young girl, I used to shadow her every move – if she liked something, I would too and if she read and loved a particular novel or author, so would I and it goes on. One of the most vivid memories I have of us, is this in particular: in the last year of high school, I went through a heartbreaking friendship circle breakup. It’s documented here in blogphilic – though now private, ha because I was so, oh my goodness dramatic. I remember coming home near-tears one day; high school, especially an all-girls’ school, always elevated the dramatic factor by thousands of magnitude and I didn’t know how to deal. I stood awkwardly in the middle of the living room on the second floor, wailing out loud, and slowly she stood up and held me. She didn’t say a word and simply held my crying self. As a family, we’ve never been affectionate – not verbally and what more, physically – and it’s the reason as to why this moment has stayed with me since. She’s the first and so far only one to have done this.
We coin ourselves soul-sisters, able to confess our internal thoughts to each other though I admit that being the youngest, I do this way more often than she does to me. I’d grown up wanting so much to be like her and was so happy to be back in her presence. Time really seemed to be on our side then; she was a junior medical doctor then with terrible work hours but amazingly, that summer, her rotation was conveniently in one of the most relaxed departments. Suddenly, she had plenty of time to spare during the evenings and weekends. She had her little car then, a white one. At that time, she was also fresh from the breakup and had just gotten out of the funk of an extremely hard aftermath; she’d finally picked herself up.
That summer, it was magical.
We spent almost everyday, as much as we could, together. We went on drives to anywhere possible because it meant we could continue conversing in private – near places like the supermarket or post office, always agreeing to run errands together and occasionally, slightly further like an hour’s drive outside of the city. Whenever it was just us at home, we sat together and filled each other in about the past six months. She was finally rediscovering herself then, realizing that she’s never actually been alone and by herself since she’d been with the guy since 16 for ten long years and more than that, time has left room for lots of reflections and inevitably, growth. We were both a little bit fleshed out than when we last saw each other six months ago and summer, indeed, was the perfect interlude for catching up.
In truth, in my mind I was battling an inner demon; I felt myself becoming and turning more and more into my own person, away from her. To me then, this was a betrayal – things we used to see eye to eye about, I found myself disagreeing. Where my younger self had followed her like a shadow, my nineteen year-old self sensed herself disentangling, slowly but surely. I thought I had kept this hidden and neatly tucked away but of course, this didn’t escape her notice.
In truth, she had sensed the shift in myself, too. We spoke about this about a year later and she admitted that at that time, suddenly nothing was good enough for me – everything about home was too hot, too noisy and too much. Complaints and more complaints coming from me. I’d grown, as I later realized, cocky and insufferable, caught up in the moment of all that’s new and exciting about my current life and the things I’d come to learn, participate and witness in my first six months. I’d temporarily forgotten.
I’d enjoyed the break so much, mostly because we’d never hung out as frequently in such a short span of time as we did then; truly, it was magical. We were both in the moment, in the brink of metamorphosing and settling into our own but it’s as if for a final time, we came together and celebrated the many years we were there for each other, soul-sisters. From those days of exchanging journals to midnight confessions to long hours in the kitchen, late at night, feasting over baked beans and thought-provoking conversations.
Always the conversations; we spoke often about the family, each other and most importantly, God and religion. We spoke of fearing regret, of being women in a highly cultural and religious setting and more. We spoke of the seven year gap and how this made a generation of difference – so true – and how, days before I were to leave to the States, I’d confessed to her whether or not I should leave. I’ve always been close to my mother and it was a bad period in the family then; I was stricken with worry and guilt and had felt like this was a betrayal, my getting to leave scot-free from the situation. Plus, I’d always been so well-sheltered by my mother and had sometimes, feared that my life will never truly be mine. I’d admitted to her and had confessed it’s okay because at least, our mother would be happy.
She’d looked at me directly then and said this, “You need to go, because it’s important that you know and realize that there is an entire world out there. It’s crucial that you get out, live by yourself and discover yourself while you’re away, because you need to realize that your life is yours. They will always have hopes and dreams for you, but your life – it’s yours. You need to go.”
And so I did. I owe it to her, sincerely, I do.
Towards the end of that summer, she attended her primary school’s reunion and crossed path, though unbeknownst to us then, her future husband. It’s rather ironic too, this turn of event because while my one year at the private college was a blackout year for me, for her it’s the six years in primary school. She hated revisiting that time period and loathed even more the girls she used to hang out with and the girl she was then. Whenever reunions came up, she never said yes …until this one came along. She’d thought she needed to act like an adult and thus, be accepting of her past, which was the motivation behind attending. Surprisingly, she’d enjoyed the meet immensely and reconnected with old friends, him included.
Mid-September came and I flew back to Philly – excitedly, because being home felt stifling to me then, such a contrast to the kind of liberation I’d experienced and lived through the past springtime. I moved to a new apartment and had another round of roommates issue – albeit less stressful, though no less annoying – and school became especially challenging. During this time period, halfway across the globe, my soul-sister fell in love with a guy so completely opposite from her old lover and even herself; he was literally the boy next door and almost twenty years later, he finally got his girl. By the end of fall term, our parents and his met. Not long after, they announced their engagement, to be married in December of the following year.
To be honest, I can’t say I was genuinely, unconditionally happy – so phony and selfish I am, indeed. I felt mostly mixed feelings, sometimes over the moon happy for her and other times stricken with fear and heartbreak and the thought of my soul-sister, Eldest Sis, finally moving away from me and effectively building a life in which I would play no part in. I admit to being a wedding Grinch – for personal reasons, I’ve never enjoyed attending weddings and thought little and negatively of marriage in general – that it was difficult to admit I was happy at her decision. However she was so, so happy – happiest I’d seen and witnessed of her, especially all through summer – that I laughed and cried along with her.
Fall term ended, I came back home to attend her engagement ceremony.
It was the last summer of us because the girls we were then, are no longer retrievable.
That summer was magical because it was all about us – our relationship, devotion and love to each other as blood- and soul-sisters. We were both in the moment, in the brink of metamorphosing and settling into our own but it’s as if for a final time, we had come together specifically to celebrate the many years we were there for each other; soul-sisters, then and now.
I love you, always you, forever and always.
“I carry your heart(I carry it in my heart)”
– e. e. cummings