There was a time when women gathered around in my mother’s kitchen to create the most fantastic relish trays: harvest gold tupperware compartments full of little slick, black olives we kids would poke all of our fingers into, and julienned carrots and cucumbers to dip into homemade ranch dressing. We lived for these holidays.
Growing up in a large Okie and Arkie family meant lots of aunties and uncles, and many cousins with whom to make palettes on the floor with on Thanksgiving night to watch the Wizard of Oz for the [insert however many years you were old] -th time. It was a time of togetherness, and I didn’t even notice the sisters quarreling behind the scenes, gossiping on the curly-wired telephone cord with the reciever pinched ear-to-shoulder to one after the other about what they “couldn’t believe she said”, etc. And we all know what happens when you play the telephone game.
It wasn’t until I got a little older and began to notice that certain folks wouldn’t show up at the next pot luck feast and I was let in on what someone was mad about that kept them from supping with us at the harvest table. As I got older, I realized that my fantasy of family being close forever was exactly that. That the reality was that people get tired of each other, and get lazy about working things out. In my family, there was no language around owning your part, and no ethics about humility whatsoever. Grudges were held. Silent treatments were executed.
It was heartbreaking as a child to see my family, especially my mother and her sisters, go this route with each other. The kids I’d grown up with, to a point, became teenagers and then they began to have issues with one another. The lack of maturity and creative problem-solving wouldn’t become clear to me until I made sisterfriends of my own and, determined to create my own tribal family that stuck together, pioneered a new way.
I know as well as you do that there are some folks who won’t respect boundaries and can’t be in relationship. But what I love about SouLodge, and entities like it, is that, given a little bit of room for truth-telling, women are rebuilding their faith in relationships with other women. With a little bit of vulnerability, and a little bit of allowing one another to be human and make mistakes, communities are being built from Cincinnati to Los Angeles to Sydney and holding it up. I hear it most often in live circle, in moments of intimate honesty. Women are remembering, with some nostalgia, some recollection of the painful wound of being alone without sisters, how to commune together and reconstruct our faith as gatherers.
We gather to add to our toolkits and to fortify our feminine language, to make our commerce and our trades, to learn to make things and leave things behind, and more. But we also gather to strengthen our faith in one another, and to heal the wounds of women past. It’s a gift we give ourselves and to the daughters of the future.