Sammi, Sarah and Sindy
Dillion were everything I was not; they came from a functional family, were
well-liked in school, and were cute, to boot. Although we rode bikes together,
played Cowboys and Indians, put on talent shows, to which we invited all of our
neighborhoods kids, and shared many summers worth of kickball
tournaments, we were not friends.
It was not so much that
we were enemies as it was that we lived in dissimilar social universes. Sammi,
the oldest, was first chair clarinet in our school band, while I sat at the end
of the second section of flutes. Sarah was president of our student
legislature. I ate lunch with the out of favor crowd. Sindy was the first
freshman to make varsity cheerleader as well as junior varsity baton squad. I
was benched during football games because I failed to march correctly in the
school bands squad formations.
Despite the fact that
those girls and I had attended the same acrobatic, tab, and ballet classes as
youngsters and lived just houses apart, dance came easy to them, friends came
easy to them, and clothes almost always looked good on them. In contrast my
renown was limited to a place on our schools otherwise all male debate
team. There was no competition between me and those sisters since we operated
in vastly different spheres.
Nonetheless, I loathed
them. Their tough, disciplinarian mom not only made sure that those girls: wore
a mix of items fashionable and faddish, made honor roll every term, and had
prestigious boyfriends, but also that the list of invitees to their parties
reflected their glory. It came to pass, thus, that even though those sisters
were always welcomed at my house, I was never received at theirs.
As a foolish
adolescent, I reviled those three for their mothers restrictions. When I
reached graduate school, a full two years sooner than I was supposed to have
landed there, I made sure to scorn Sammi, who was older than me by a year,
though an undergrad at the same institute where I collected a second degree. In
hindsight, Im sure she was confused by my lack of approachability -
during our growing up years, she had regularly befriended me.
Sarah, who was my age,
likewise, as a teen, and later, as a young adult, had tendered warmth in my
direction. It never occurred to her that I might rebuff her attempts to include
me in our class decade marking reunion. No matter, if Facebook had
existed at the time, I would have unfriended her. As it was, I answered her
gracious phone calls with frosty remarks about how a professors schedule
had no room for frivolities.
Ten years later, Sarah
approached me, again. I wish I could say that I communicated with less malice
that second time.
Meanwhile, Sindy, too,
had matured. Younger than both her two sisters and me, she had been somewhat
removed from my radar during my teen years. It happened, though, that she was
one of the nurses hired to ease my father through his hospice days. It was hard
for me to hate anyone who extended kindness to my father.
My reframed connection
to Sindy invited along the opportunity for me to reimagine my relationship to
her sisters. After a few communally sipped cups of coffee at a neighborhood
shop, I learned that all three girls had always liked me despite the fact that
their mom had not.
Whats more, their
mom was guarded for the same reason that my mom easily took offense; both were
children of immigrants. In the Dillion Sisters case, their olive
complexions reflected their Sicilian ancestry. As for me, my last name
reflected my grandparents flight from the horrors of the
Looking down at my
empty cup, I apologized for the shameful way in which I had treated Sammi at
university. I also made amends to Sarah for responding offensively each time
she tried to include me in class festivities; in truth, professors are people,
too, and we do get out from under our books quite often. As for Sindy, I
smiled at her and silently contemplated how I had mentally slandered her and
how I could change my thinking about her.
When I was pubescent, I
was coached to understand exclusion as disapproval, as derision, and as
arbitration. As a young adult, I had clung to academics plethora of
insecurities. More exactly, scholars frequently disdain nonexperts as a way of
puffing themselves up, namely, of compensating themselves for the consequences
they experience due to their dearth of social skills; playground denizens were
right when they claimed advanced cognitions often came at the cost of grace.
Anyway, since scoffing at other folks was easy, felt good (at least
temporarily), and secured my rank among ivory tower dwellers, I had embraced
On balance, I was weary
of the cheerless memories I had of my youth. If I could boost myself beyond my
parents and peers parameters and recognize that, perhaps, the
nasty people populating my early life had been as good, as
innocent, and as misdirected as me, at least I would be able to age more
Ultimately, whereas I
found peace, I never became best buddies with the Dillions. We never again
worked together, as we had during our childhoods, a span when we used the
patterns from our dance classes to entertain the boys and girls living on our
street. Nevertheless, I was gifted with a change in perspective; I no longer
viewed those associates from my youth as having had rejected me. I hope that,
likewise, they came to know me as having, eventually, accepted them.
occasionally, we cross paths on social media. Were warm to each
other. We make the time to catch up.
Those sisters and I are
no longer children, but are grandmothers. Whether because of our pooled wisdom
or because of serendipity, none of us taught our descendants to appraise other
people on the basis of race, of religion, or of other demographics. Maybe, our
offspring and their kin will do a better job at actualizing alliances than