Selecting My Sisterhood

By: Brooke Bunce

When I was younger, my best friend from childhood and I would skip down the sidewalks of our small historic downtown, palms clasped (“My hand goes on the bottom!” she’d demand), and whenever we paused to catch a breath, there would be an unspeakable ache in my chest.

“I wish you were my sister,” I’d say, with all the seriousness a 6-year-old could muster.

“We’re sisters in God’s eyes!” she’d quip back. For a time it was a comfort, a Band-Aid; but it wasn’t always enough. And while religion never played into it much, I couldn’t shake that I longed for a sister, a blood-bonded partner that shared half of my genetic material. Sisters were just supposed to get you the way no one else ever did.

I grew up with two brothers who were four and eight years older than I. It’s enough age difference to make relating to one another difficult, and we’re all so distinctly different that it made actually being friends particularly tough. Plus, being the youngest girl sets you up for constant torture. “Playing Barbie’s” with my older brothers turned into “Let’s undress Barbie’s and put them in the most compromising positions possible.” It meant having no one to ask about my confusing feelings towards boys. It meant consulting “” to learn what tampons were. It means being constantly envious of those around me who got the authentic “Sisterly Experience.”

I wanted, desperately, to be able to have someone to complain to when my parents were being insufferable. I imagined tiptoeing into her room, slipping into bed next to her and whispering secrets and inside jokes all night. I dreamed about having someone who knew what I wanted to say before the words even left my mouth.

I despised my friends who had sisters and the cosmic connection that seemed to float between them. Of course, I realize that not everyone revels in having a sister and that some have rocky relationships. I should note, too, that I love my brothers dearly, especially now that we’re older and age doesn’t mean as much as it used to. Still, it never stopped me from wondering, What if?

In college, it became more apparent that the absence of a sister shaped me differently. Things became awkward quickly when I refused to let my roommates borrow my clothes, and sharing close quarters meant I could no longer take underwear dance breaks whenever I felt it necessary. It took me a long time to not be appalled by the idea of opening up about my sex life. I had little idea how birth control really worked. The annual “Sibs Weekend” only exacerbated my envy, as scores of sisters paired off to hit up the main strip of bars or bat their eyelashes in-sync over Jungle-Juice-stained Solo cups.

But over the crest of that verdant hill named Jealousy, there’s a fertile field of hope: I get to choose the women that make up that sister-shaped hole in my heart. I’ve amassed a collection of fierce, incredible females to lean on during the most important points in my life.

My best friend and I sat bikini-clad in her mom’s bathtub and recounted how surreal “losing your virginity” is. I was able to cry on the threadbare dorm bunks of another friend after a frat-boy fling broke my heart. The girl who lived across the hall my freshman year of college showed me how to be proud of my sexual desire. My roommate-turned-best-friend taught me how to unapologetically work towards your career goals. My  fed me chewy Sweet Tarts as a tattoo gun mercilessly stabbed the inside of my arm for the first time. I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count on the number of times I’ve had someone step up to the sister role in my life.

Even if we’re not afforded a sister, it’s pretty damn awesome knowing that we can be privileged enough to pick up women that, in the long-run, are just as good (if not better) stand-ins.

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