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“A sister is both your mirror – and your opposite.”
My sisters and I all look alike. We also sound alike. Strangers or people who don’t know us well are always mixing us up, and when we look at old baby photos, we get mixed up ourselves and have to ask Mom, “Which one is it?” Sometimes I suspect that she uses the background, which house we were living in, or which curtains were on the windows, for clues. Or, if she is in the picture, I think she uses her hairstyle as a time gauge.
I remember once that Lita and I were looking at a photograph of the two of us in our thirties and I laughed at her funny looking flowered pants. She said, “That’s you.” I said, “I would never wear pants like that.” She replied, “You went through a real dork phase.” Then I kind of remembered those pants. Leave it to a sister.
The connection between us runs deep. We share not only genes, but a lot of history. Hence, an essential part of my identity comes from my sisters. As Air Force brats, we moved around a lot. I never minded it, and looked forward to a chance to start over and improve myself. Even at a young age I was dissatisfied. But I always had my family, especially my sisters, with me.
Then I moved from Spokane, Washington to San Diego, California without them. What a shock. I found myself in a city where no one knew that although I was considered good with words, I often mixed them up, said left, when I meant right, etcetera. No one knew that I majored in malapropisms. No one laughed affectionately at my clumsiness. No one knew that I could be funny, cried too easily and loved books.
No one knew my history. That my writing career began in a rocking chair holding Liana and writing songs for her. That we used to swim in the irrigation ditch. That my sister Lita and I, who were supposed to be watching Liana, forgot about her and she almost drowned, and yes, she still loves us. No one knew that we had a grandfather from Sweden who hid mints in the top drawer which we occasionally sneaked. There are a parts of me that only my sisters know.
I trust them with that mirror. We share so much, we are all creative, kind and honest. And yet in many ways, I’m not like them. I’m the liberal, the writer, the rebel. But I couldn’t have chosen better people to help form me, which is maybe why I wrote The Second Crack, a novel about sisterhood and independence. You can read the first ten pages, or find links to buy it on my website http://www.chelodiazludden.com.
* Disclaimer – The Second Crack is a work of fiction. None of us have ever lived in South Africa, run a coffeehouse, or disappeared.