My Sister’s Table is a string of words that has accompanied me, tucked in my pocket as a reminder, a personal touchstone, of the capacity I find in women to hold the larger conversation, beyond the illusion of “sides.”
It arose out of a tender, painful conversation that took place between my sister and me, well over a dozen years ago, just after the re-election of Bush. That November, instead of heading across the border from Vermont into Canada, I headed south into the belly of the beast, the very state accused of rigging the election against Gore (he, who would have prioritized stewardship of the planet upon which we all rely.)
I arrived in Tampa during the Wal-Mart Superstore explosion which seemed to run right alongside the mainstreaming of Evangelicalism. In this alternative reality, men were still head of the household, and…
For years, the women whittle away perfectly productive days in parks and cafes and street corners with little ones at their knees Grasping for food or love or the toy that has fallen While they attempt to finish/speak/have a complete thought
And now they are all gone…
Replaced by aged men Who fritter away entire mornings Engaged in the ritual of companionship and conversation
While their female counterparts similarly aged, Practice yoga or Pilates or run a campaign or build a community center
Each balancing what was lost in the heat of living
Six weeks ago, my husband and I began a Sunday morning ritual of cafes and conversation. It’s been lovely.
The centerpiece of this new tradition is our work with a book called the Life Organizer, by Jennifer Louden (aka. the Comfort Queen.) The book is filled with weekly prompts for organizing one’s life–not around detail–but around intention, desire and spirit.
Given my husband’s internal mid-life “axis” (a better fitting word than “crisis”), this process of plumbing our souls for direction has been a sweet connecting point in these welcome, but turbulent waters of change.
On this particular Sunday, he passed on the pastry and enjoyed a cup of tea instead of coffee–in a renewed commitment to caring for his body (and his blood pressure.) I felt guilty with each bite of cinnamon so I saved half the bun for our boys as penance.
Casey and I were deep into journaling our responses to the organizing prompt, “What one basic need do I want to pay attention to this week…” when we overheard a conversation from across the room.
A young man stood beside a young woman–talking about life–in the way that you did too when you were in college.
I don’t remember what he was saying but it immediately took me back to cafes on the Seine, late nights in the dorm and pillow talk with lovers.
Casey and I smiled at each other from across our table.
“I don’t think I talked like that when I was that age,” he said, a bit regretfully.