Last week, I had the opportunity to go up to northern lower Michigan (oxymoron, I know … but Michigander’s would understand) to spend time with a few co-worker’s at one of their weekend houses. Her place is situated just west of Grayling right on the Manistee River. This is the third year in a row that I’ve went and it’s always such a wonderful time.
Despite the fact that I work with these people day in and day out and that I do feel pretty close to them , every year I find myself initially hesitant to go. Part of it is because I’m extremely close with my husband and, although he understands the need for “girly time,” I hate to be doing fun things without him. The other part is that sometimes I think that I’m not as in touch with my “female ya-ya sisterhood” side as most women are.
I grew up as the only daughter in my family; the youngest of two with my brother being a couple years older than me. It was overall a sheltered environment; having been a first-generation Filipino-American and having gone through 12 years of Catholic school. Based on that bit of history, I feel many times that I grew up in two different worlds. There was the world of school; where most of my friends were caucasian and maybe never encountered another person of a different culture before. For example, I can recall being called “My Little Shogun” by one of my friend’s parents, as that Made-For-TV movie was quite popular when I was in grade school. How wrong is that? First of all, wrong ethnicity. Second of all, Shogun is typically reserved for a male military rank in the Japanese army. And being only 9 of 10 years of age at that time, how does one respond to that?
The other world was the Filipino Family and Friends world. These are the other Filipino kids that I’d hang out with whenever Filipino social events would be thrust upon us. They were probably the only other people that could relate to how it was like being the only “Asian” in our class, but none of them went to the same school as I did. Therefore, how could we fully support each other in social awkwardness if we didn’t even run in the same social circles outside of these Filipino events?
Having lived in the two separate worlds has made it difficult to get close to someone … anyone. I think maybe that’s the reason that I feel very guarded when meeting people for the first time. Heck, it’s probably the reason I don’t feel comfortable telling people my deepest darkest fears. It would’ve been nice though, to have that type of person growing up. To experience what it would be like to be really close to another female person. To experience some sort of sisterhood.
I’d say the closest I ever felt to feeling that sisterhood was growing up with my three female cousins (all sisters) in London, Ontario. There are many summers and holiday breaks that I can recall staying at each other’s houses for weeks at a time. During those times we would do just about everything together. But the older I got, the more difficult it was to maintain such a closeness. Life and distance just got in the way. We just couldn’t spend as much time together as we used to, especially once we graduated from high school. Now the only time we tend to talk to one another is at big family events like weddings. But whenever I see the three of them together, I can’t help but feel just a tad jealous that, despite their ages and the distance between them all, they still manage to remain close. They still manage to have that bond of sisterhood.
So it’s that lack of “sisterhood experience” that initally made me hesitant to head up north with my female co-workers. Would I be socially awkward in situations? Would I commit a social faux pas? Would I snore too loudly or make other embarrassing sounds of bodily function? And because I’ve been emotionally bursting at the seams for the past few years, would one conversation about how infertility has affected my life throw me into embarrassing sobs?
Well, it turns out I did turn into a blubbering idiot that weekend. And even though I was initially embarrassed by my uncontrollable sobs or my rants and raves about work issues, I eventually felt more and more relaxed around them. I think there will always be a part of me that feels that I missed out on the female-bonding experience, especially while growing up. However, making that trip “up north” and talking to these girls has made me feel more aware that I do have them opportunity to experience sisterhood … I just got to take that leap.
To see more photos of the weekend, click below: