Looking through vacation photos this afternoon, pulling out the good and interesting ones (not as many as I'd hoped), I noticed something unusual, but comforting. As I examined the evidence of long-awaited time with friends, I felt kind of like I was looking into another dimension. An alternate familial reality.
I didn't notice it in the photos when I took them. As is my usual procedure, I shot a bunch of pictures, occasionally monkeying with the settings on my camera, hoping for four or five Really Good Ones. When I finally sat down and looked at the pictures all together as a group, I was struck by how domestic we look. There are only a few tell-tale "vacation" photos. Mostly it's just five women (and two dogs and a diabetic cat) living together in an almost-complete house. Cooking dinner, setting the table, unloading car trunks, backing up computers. Like college never ended, and we all just moved into a really beachy dorm.
So much has happened in two years. For starters, the baby who was in my belly the last time we all saw each other is now a little boy, marking the passage of time in well-child visits. There are boyfriends, teenage step-kids, houses. Job titles that sound real--lawyer, teacher, chef--even if the jobs themselves are still emerging. There's a wedding coming up. A move to Europe. Everything is different. And somehow nothing has changed.
We still know each others quirks backwards and forwards. We can still lovingly, pointlessly peer-pressure each other into things like splitting a salad at dinner, getting hooked on a television show, or joining a social networking site despite its obvious asshattitude. We can still roar with laughter. ("Child support is really just backdoor alimony." "No, 'backdoor alimony' is getting paid to have anal sex with your ex.") We can still agree to disagree. Big life changes or not, we're still able to pick up right where we left off.
I can't help but look at my oddly-composed, poorly-lit snapshots of this sisterhood of traveling feminist rants and fantasize about the five of us living together all the time. We wouldn't even need a giant house to do it, I think to myself, because we blend so seamlessly into each others space. We don't need much privacy, because we're practically related. Sisters From Some Other Misters.
Except that it would never work in "real life." For one thing, we'd probably all get sick of each other eventually, or at least sick of each others turns of phrase and tendency towards oversharing--although I find it hard to imagine. For another, friends may be the family we get to choose, as the cliche goes, but there are still in-laws to deal with. My chosen family tree already branches out to include two husbands, and that's just the beginning. When school and work are tied to locations, finding a mutually agreeable place to take root is truly impossible. Still, there's something about the four of them and our crazy, cozy bond that makes me think nothing is impossible.