A new road

by Jennifer on May 8, 2008

For the last couple of years, most of the time since we’ve lived here in Arizona, the highway department has been building a section of the freeway loop connecting us to the rest of the metro area. The project will be finished soon (soon is relative–think months and maybe a year or more). My kids have gotten to watch the progress of the building of the road, four lanes and an overpass, from the start.

It’s slow going, road building, and fascinating. Boy likes to observe the progress of the overpass, including the time when a large section collapsed (fortunately, not a section directly over the street). But the process intrigues me, too. It’s a lesson in patience, but there’s also a sense from week to week that things are moving along, if slowly.

On Facebook, I have exactly ten friends. Four of them are related to me–three sisters and one cousin. I check in from time to time to see what people have posted (but don’t really do much else with my account).

Last night I discovered that my sister C, who lives in Washington DC, had posted photos on her page from a going-away party for a friend. As I looked through the photos, there was a moment when I thought, “Wow, these people know my sister better than I do.”

I felt almost like I was standing outside the window of that party, looking in. Everyone smiling, laughing, taking photos, having drinks.

I felt sad and even a bit envious–for all the things that others know about her that I do not–and that sadness stayed with me all night. Then, this morning, I thought how ridiculous it is for me to just sit with that feeling and do nothing.

So I sent C an email, telling her what I just told you (except for the window part). I told her that I would like it if we could email more frequently, and get together sometime. That really, I just want it to be less true that all of those people know my sister better than I do. I don’t assume that it will be easy to get to know each other. Maybe it will. But as I said to her, I know at this point in our lives that getting to know each other is a long road, and that it is made harder by the time and distance that road has to cover.

(Why does it seem that everything in my life can be scrubbed down to the metaphor of a road?)

This may take some time. We have a lot of years to cover. Maybe we’ll sit down one day and the conversation will just flow, or maybe it won’t, and we’ll feel like it’s more work than we anticipated. Either way, I hope we’ll stay with it and give it the time a relationship with a sister deserves. Just a friendship, even. We’re sisters, yes, but of the long-lost sort. And this isn’t a movie with a tidy ending. It’s just messy, messy life, and there’s no map for this sort of thing. A thousand roads can lead to the same place.

Anyway, at this stage of things, it feels more like a beginning, like driving on a new road that has just opened for the first time. One that took a long time to build and even collapsed a time or two. The surface might be smooth and the view wide open, but without a map, who knows where we’ll end up.

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Just Jamie May 8, 2008 at 9:34 am

Hope that road gets you exactly where you need to be.

Brenda May 8, 2008 at 9:56 am

I echo Just Jamie. But if it doesn’t, it’s OK. There are two people with busy, separate lives here, and it may not work out the way you hope. But I think from your life up to this point, your expectations can be flexible.

And think of her. Think of all the people who know YOU better than she does. All your friends where you live. (And other places you’ve lived.) Your “CR’s” (some of them, at least) that are part of what became your life due to Beer and a Bikini. (Do I ever wish I knew how to link things.) Probably all your bloggy friends. Probably almost anyone who knows you at all. AND, Ducky, who is her sister, too. I wonder if she has ever felt like she was looking through a window.

Daryl E May 8, 2008 at 10:14 am

Hey its as good a metaphor as any. LOL.

I hope that your sister is open to spanning that divide… and if she’s not, it will be her loss too – dont forget that.

Akelamalu May 8, 2008 at 10:17 am

You’ve taken the first step on the road – every journey starts with the first step! πŸ™‚

we_be_toys May 8, 2008 at 10:53 am

It is sad, the way siblings grow apart as they grow up. Sometimes its the family dynamic, or the lack of one, that drives that separation, but not always. I think its great you want to reconnect with your sister, to get to know her better, but don’t berate yourself for not being on her inside track – that took more than just your not keeping in touch – it generally takes two!

PS – you can always find a sister-soul in me sweetie! And I’m not much further than DC! πŸ˜›

Jennifer Harvey May 8, 2008 at 11:03 am

Jamie–fingers crossed.

Brenda–I’ve learned not to get my hopes up very high, in a lot of things, so I think I can have a pretty balanced outlook about this, too. We are both busy, and going slow is better anyway. Less pressure.

Daryl–I do try to keep that in mind. Thank you.

Akelamalu–indeed, it does.

Webetoys–in this case, we didn’t grow up together, so we’re starting almost from the ground up. But you’re right, it does take two. )I think I feel more responsible, since I’m an older sister. ) And, yes, you would be worth a side-trip!

Carolyn May 8, 2008 at 12:21 pm

Good luck on rebuilding your relationship with your sister. What a lovely thing to pursue.

Something about what you’ve written makes me think of Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken. Especially the last few lines:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and Iβ€”
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Don’t know why I thought of this, but another road analogy couldn’t hurt, eh?

Suzanne May 8, 2008 at 12:23 pm

When I read the title of your post “A New Road” I got all excited and thought you were going to tell us you were moving and where you were moving to!

So, you’re right, that road metaphor sure can apply to a who mess of different things.

But back to YOUR post (not my imaginings)…I understand completely how easy it is to find that bond with siblings fading into phone call pleasantries over the years….I felt that at my brother’s wedding and it made me incredibly sad.

I don’t know if this is just a fact of growing up and forming our own families, or a reflection of growing apart as we move to different cities or states or countries. I suppose it is all of these things, but most of all, it is subtle, it happens so slowly we don’t notice it until it’s almost too late….glad to hear you are creating a new bond with your sister.

Jennifer Harvey May 8, 2008 at 12:42 pm

Carolyn–as you know, I’m all over the road analogies. πŸ™‚

Suzanne–Wishful thinking about our plans! I promise, you will all be the first to know. Right after the moving company. As for my sister, in a way it’s interesting that we don’t have a shared history (since we didn’t grow up together), so everything is new and untested.

Dave May 8, 2008 at 1:41 pm

Kudos to you. I think it took some guts to write that email. I have been in similar positions with my family in years past. One never knows how these things may go, but you made the move, and that’s terrific.

Milena May 8, 2008 at 3:00 pm

I too have a facebook account. Don’t do much with it. You may find me there. Want to be my facebook friend?

As to this post – everything you write pulls at my heartstrings Jennifer so, I cannot imagine how your mail could not likewise draw your sister to you. If it doesn’t however, if it turns out a dead end (the road metaphor again) this effort you’ve made then, well… I’d say it is her loss. Yours too to a certain degree but, more hers. Remember to keep that in mind.

Angela May 8, 2008 at 3:15 pm

I envy your courage and your willingness to try. It also makes me feel good to know that I’m not the only person who knows very little about her sister.

david mcmahon May 8, 2008 at 5:09 pm

Ah, but sometimes we don’t need maps. It’s called discovery!!

Good luck ….

Dawn May 8, 2008 at 6:06 pm

all true, in so many relationships. good luck!

JCK May 8, 2008 at 6:27 pm

You did something about it. You had the feelings and emailed her. Instead of having the feelings, the immediacy fading away and then…there you are in the same place. Good for you!! I hope it brings a new knowing between you.

Lisa Milton May 8, 2008 at 7:40 pm

It’s hard to reach out like that. I think it’s great you made that effort. I hope you two connect.

Sandy (Momisodes) May 8, 2008 at 7:49 pm

No need for a map or a definite destination just yet. It’s all about the journey. I hope the road leads you to amazing experiences and memories together.

Kellan May 8, 2008 at 8:37 pm

I hope you a your sister find your way to each other – to someplace comfortable!

Take care Jennifer – see ya – Kellan

Jenn @ Juggling Life May 8, 2008 at 9:36 pm

It can totally happen. I reconnected with a long-lost in a casual way about 6 years ago (her wedding) and then in a more real way about a year ago (my sister’s cancer diagnosis).

Today we are truly the best of friends.

D / Momma May 9, 2008 at 4:47 am

Jennifer –

Your life has been incredibly tough, a road full of potholes, sinkholes, speed traps, and detours. I wish you smooth road from here on out, but then again, look how much you’ve grown and learned from all of those hazards! You are a wonderful writer, and writers aren’t born; they are made out of many hazards and difficulties.

I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day with your children. Think how much better a life you’ve given them! Sometimes we need that bad example to learn how to turn it all around.

Hugs – D

dragonfly May 9, 2008 at 4:50 am

You took the first step…and that’s usually the hardest one. I hope, as so many others have said, it goes where you want it to.

cce May 9, 2008 at 5:05 am

I hope she’ll meet you there. Help you connect your routes, create an overpass to the relationship you hope to have. Even if it’s never what you hope it’ll be, at least you have reached out.

chanda (bea) May 9, 2008 at 5:17 am

Robert Frost wrote about the road less traveled, so you’re in good company metaphor wise. I love a post that gets me thinking, and this one certainly did the trick! It got me thinking about relationships in my life that need “bridging” (my sister in law came directly to mind).

I hope you and your sister find a way to a better relationship, and regardless of the outcome, just the attempt will allow you to know your sister better. Wonderful post, thank you.

HRH May 9, 2008 at 5:34 am

Why does everything go back to the road? Because you are Thursday Drive! Don’t you see the genius in it all?

Madge May 9, 2008 at 5:56 am

why don’t they make a GPS for this sort of thing?

andi May 9, 2008 at 9:06 am

Good for you for reaching out. I hope it works out.

Now I’m off to find you on Facebook…

melissa May 9, 2008 at 9:10 am

Good luck. I bet it’ll be worth the effort.

liv May 9, 2008 at 10:11 am

i like beginnings. that feels good.

the mama bird diaries May 9, 2008 at 11:39 am

How wonderful that you reached out.

And I will so be your Facebook friend. I think I have about 10 friends too.

Allen May 9, 2008 at 1:39 pm

Lights Turning Green

“I wish for you
clear road ahead,
and lights turning green.
Not a destination certain,
on a map,
but a road
where sudden bends
open vistas to the far horizon.

Crossroads I wish for you too,
so you can consider new directions,
take a turnoff just for fun,
and see where it might lead you.
A passing lane to get you by
those who seem to lead the way
but are really lost,
and lots of turn outs,
so you can let traffic speed past,
not crowd too close behind you;
and also overlooks, where you can stop,
see where you’ve been,
where you’ve yet to go,
and at the same time
look all around,
photograph the smallest flowers,
as well as distant
snow-peaked mountains
and shimmering lakes reflecting.
If you need to stop
and turn around,
I hope for ample shoulders,
because proceeding
in the wrong direction
is rarely useful,
though you may only learn
your road is leading
down a dead end
by traveling far enough to see.
Picnic stops too,
so you can rest up,
eat something delicious
and go on at full strength.

And if your lights can’t be
always turning green,
I hope you can accept
the need to stop
along your way
if only temporarily,
to reassesses,
and also see those opportunities
which don’t come at you
straight on,
but from the side, obliquely.
And one last wish:
May your passenger seat
hold someone dear to you,
who is smart enough
to help you navigate,
tune the radio,
pass you a cold drink,
rub your neck,
and tell you,
with a grin,
when you’ve taken
a wrong turn.”

Looks like you’ve taken on a new passenger: your sister.
Now why do I suddenly have this mental picture of sunshine dancing on the radiant, jubilant faces of Thelma & Louise as they jauntily, recklessly, travel down the road with rag-top down and worries blowing behind them? πŸ™‚

Bruce May 9, 2008 at 4:08 pm

Journeys have to be undertaken, they don’t just happen. Good Luck with your sister.

(I live in Phoenix as well, the roads here will never be done. )

Crazycath May 9, 2008 at 6:26 pm

Jennifer – got here via David’s this time from well deserved POTD recognition! Sorry I have been absent – I seem to have run out of hours in the day. Some one has shortened the days since the sun came out because I don’t get as much blogging done! Hmmm.

This is yet another sensitive post by some one reaching out and the healing is evident. Your life is not “scrubbed down” to roads! You are just perceptive enough to recognise the journeys life takes us on, embrace them and meet the challenges ahead. Power to you!

An old Irish blessing for you –
May the wind be always at your back,
And the road rise up to meet you.

Jules~ May 10, 2008 at 6:46 pm

That is so wonderful Jennifer. Yes it may be a long road that the two of you are taking, but as long as you take it together, the horizon will be so sweet. You did the brave and important thing by reaching out adn making your heart open and vulnerable. That was a very courageous step to take.

Emily R May 11, 2008 at 5:31 pm

After the things you have gone through together, it’s amazing you are still in touch at all. I hope so much for you.

Emily Rs last blog post..Happy Alternative Mother’s Day

Margaret May 12, 2008 at 2:48 pm

Hello! Came here from ByJane’s blog….
I envy your desire to get more acquainted with your sister. I can’t stand mine. Never could. She’s loud, obnoxious, tacky, low class, embarrassing to be around, a bad mother, fiscally irresponsible, undependable, manipulative, and a compulsive liar, to provide a few examples. She’s like a drug addict, but without the drugs. I don’t like her, but I tolerate her because she has a daughter that I love to death. So I feel there’s no hope for a decent relationship between us. I don’t mean to dump that all on you, but I can’t complain on my own blog in the event she stumbles on it someday. Anyway, I’m so glad for you that there is a chance for a better relationship with your sister. I wish I had that chance. Now, you go and build something and let me know how it goes so I can live vicariously through you. Who knows, maybe I’ll learn something.

Margarets last blog post..Whose Day Is It, Really?

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