It’s 250 AM here right now as I’m typing this and it is my second night in a row to be so engrossed and broken – simultaneously, if that is even possible – by the friendship of four young women who lived on in pages of what’s known to the world as The Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants. I first read the series as a young teenage girl years ago, trading stories and thoughts with a group of former close-knit friends. I’d giggled and groaned my way through the two movies – the only thing they did right in my opinion, was casting Alexis Bledel as Lena – and it wasn’t until this summer that I’d completely by chance, (finally) came across the fifth and last book.
I had no idea there was even a fifth one, published according to ever-trusty Amazon, in 2011.
Naturally, I immediately made painstaking efforts to obtain the Kindle versions of all five books. There must a tradition to these things, one can’t just jump into the last one when the last time the original four were read was years ago – I can’t even put a concrete year. While I was still home in the last sliver of summer and battling a persistent drama-slump, one Sunday afternoon I settled myself downstairs in the living room, on the family couch. I grabbed an ice-cream bar from the refrigerator, put on my Dr. Dre’s headphones with my favorite playlist Heart’s Melodies as my choice for the evening, comfortably settled in and finally made a walk through to memory lane with the first book of the sisterhood.
I made it through to half of the second book before Real Life took over completely in the months since. It wasn’t until last Thursday, while on my way by train to Berkeley to spend Thanksgiving with my old buddy that I finally whipped open the book and continued from where I last left it. Last night I fervently finished the book and jumped into the third one. I was so engrossed that I finished it in one sitting – even if it was 2 AM by then – and plodded through the fourth immediately, swaying back-and-forth between lost and remembered memories. At 3 AM I had to call it a night.
Tonight I did it again and have not only finished the fourth book, but I’ve finally started on the fifth and final book. At the moment I’m 44% into the book and I am an emotional mess. This book is a hard read because it is heartbreaking in that grown-up, jaded and marred reality ways. It’s hard because I’m transported back to a time when I was younger and understood the story and characters less, to the reader I am now – marred by own perspectives and lenses.
These four girls, the sisterhood, comes back to me in ways which perplex and move me in ways that’s almost inexplicable – it’s hard to explain. I was dreamy and incredibly teenaged when I read them, my memories and feelings locked in an innocence that’s now gone; the melancholy and nostalgia hits me in waves.
This fifth book though, is so much like the reality that is the present that it is just heartbreaking. I’m in that gray area of being a reader and a person, forgetting and remembering they’re fictional characters. But… These same fictional characters, apparently they’ve grown up too as broken, battered, imperfect and jaded young women with a gaping hole – grief – so wide that this read is everything and nothing like the first four. This one is raw, guttural and painful, because apparently… Like me, they too, are now marred by life’s outcomes.
I’m distraught, drunken in a kind of sadness that comes from a place so pure, organic and the roots of who I am that honestly, I don’t know if these tears are for myself or for them, or a mixture of both. Probably both.
Before there were dramas or even writing – there were books. Always.
It is like I am finally coming home to myself, the reader, and I want to weep in sheer joy at this profound discovery.