As I go through the week trying to stay in touch, people keep asking, “What are you up to? What have you been doing while at home?” This week exemplifies my day-to-day here, as not much out of the ordinary has happened. I am studying for the GRE, which I’ll be taking at the end of February. I am shadowing the speech therapist in the elementary at the American School of The Hague (ASH), where I used to attend, and being there has also afforded me the opportunity to reconnect with former teachers. I am also doing research still, continuing the project two other undergrads and I began this fall. Also, we seem to go to the grocery store often, a daily ritual in the Netherlands made necessary by the small kitchens and refrigerators.
|The beloved supermarket|
Photo from: http://www.levensmiddelenkrant.nl/10535/ah-draait-fabrikanten-alsnog-duimschroeven-aan
While the highlights of my week have been interactions with others—babysitting, a dinner party with family friends, visiting with past teachers—the predominant thought on my mind these past few days has nothing to do with these exchanges. But rather, reading the excellent book You Were Always Mom’s Favorite! by Deborah Tannen has centered my focus on my sister. Older by two years and two weeks, my sister has always been the one I looked up to. When we were younger, I wanted so badly just to be included with her and her friends, which she often allowed with magnanimity and openness. As we have grown older, our “opposite-ness,” increasingly apparent to our family, amazes the both of us. We find it especially strange that some people ask if we are even related while others wonder if we are twins. How can that be?
In her book, Tannen discusses the two inevitable forces that play a role in the relationships of all sisters: competition and connection. So, although we may have many differences, my sister and I remain linked by the bond of our upbringing. It is because of my sister’s efforts and initiative that we have stayed close despite the distance. And for that I am most humbly grateful to her. Moreover, my sister’s courage to blaze a path on her own has been one of the greatest motivating forces inspiring me to go out into the world and grow in my independence. I knew I would be ok going to university in Indiana where I knew nobody. I know I will be ok going to Peru for a semester where I will have to navigate another foreign land. I know I will be ok because she has passed strength to me in the knowledge that if she can do it, I can do it.
|Photo courtesy of Samantha Tatro|
And so while my life right now is governed by the small banal tasks, I see the relationships I have as the center of a dream-catcher, the daily going-about as the strings creating the frame that allows the central circle to exist. Quotidian duties may become frustrating or boring at times, but the big beautiful things emerge from the daily happenings. So what am I doing today? I’m adding another loop to the dream-catcher. Building relationships. Calling my sister.