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The Dillion Sisters
by KJ Hannah Greenberg




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 neighborhood’s 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 band’s 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 school’s 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, I’m 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 professor’s 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.

What’s 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 Holocaust.

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 that behavior.

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 serenely.

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.


At present, occasionally, we cross paths on social media.  We’re 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 us.



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