Where We Are

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It’s not always a picnic, being sisters. All that history. Memories we can’t agree on, recollections that don’t match, completely different ways of being in the world despite the identical DNA.

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My sister is visiting me for my birthday weekend. Fourteen years between us, pretty much an entire generation. She remembers me organizing her birthday parties: treasure hunts and other games, in an era before paint ball. She remembers so much that I don’t, and vice-versa. A road trip with a motel and wood-panelled walls; some crazy party I took her to, I recall none of it! But we’re saying things with our memories, putting together a story that makes sense. How I wanted to show her a certain possible world of creativity: in art, in relationships, in food. How she noticed and remembered so much, and then wrote her own script.

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I take her to my workplace, show her Kensington Market with all of its food smells, booming reggae music, glittering colourful vintage stores. She takes photos constantly, the lens of the camera her way of negotiating the unfamiliar, and also a way of finding and preserving beauty in the world. Her photos (check out her flicker site) are quirky, lovely: they make me see things I hadn’t even thought of noticing, small, glittering moments in a messy urban world.

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The day ends in a simple, easy meal. She’s no foodie, this one, but she does enjoy food and that’s good enough for me. We make guacamole and mango-tomato salsa together, sipping gin and tonics as we go. My lover arrives and they settle in to a conversation about being the youngest in a large family. Great to have siblings organizing birthday parties, but sometimes, they agree, there was just a little too much mothering going on.

I’ve had to learn to be less protective of her, have learnt to take care of myself instead.

Dinner is
grilled chili-lime chicken
, potato salad and tossed greens. We eat out on the deck for the first time of the season, drink vinho verde. I start to relax for the first time in days. I’m turning fifty. This is what it feels like. This is where I am.

All photos except one by Lydia.

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