Two weeks ago, I spent four nights and five days in California with my sisters. We were on our first just-us, unsupervised, all-adults vacation. Ever. And in direct violation of my firm rule about family visits- three days is the limit. Just long enough to feel like everyone spent some time together, but not too long so that everyone reverts to their puberty selves and starts bickering over jeans and shoes.
We almost made it. It was, of course, the last full night out that put us over the top. We spent a beautiful first day touring wine country and tasting some delicious beverages, picnicking looking out over the hills full of vines and mustard, laughing at our tasting bar neighbors. In true Trousers Family style, my middle sister looked over in horror as the wine snob beside us dumped something she didn’t like out into a bucket. “What a waste!,” she whispered, and proceeded to take her sample of the same bad wine as a shooter.
We had an early night after kicking back at the hotel with a bottle of local red picked up at the Target on the way back from the wineries. (We are also cheap. Or as I prefer to put it, thrifty.)
The next day, we headed into the city to explore. We stayed in Fisherman’s Wharf at the Courtyard. Seriously, the most convenient hotel of all time. Right by the end of the trolley line, on the streetcar line, within blocks of the buses, and a couple of blocks from Pier 39, the big entertainment complex. There was plenty of good seafood to be had, bars, and a ton of affordable souvenir shopping to be done. Also, the woman at the front desk will help you find your drunken sister when she wanders off with complete strangers at 2 am. Which is what brings me to the four day rule.
We decided, after two days of sight-seeing, to “stop in” at the nightclub next to the hotel. This place looked like every episode of Jersey Shore was happening simultaneously on the dance floor. The bartender was generously pouring Maker’s Mark and Diet Cokes. We all had entirely too many. And all of a sudden, it’s lights on and last call and we are tipsy and sassy and heading for the door. We’ve passed Day Three into Day Four. And now, everyone gets a drunken opinion, because we’re not visiting anymore- we’re family. Blood, or out for blood.
This, my sisters decided, was a great time to weigh in on their thoughts about whether I should be dating a woman (no), whether they thought I spent my money properly (no), and to share that my brother-in-law believes I am in some extended delusion about myself. Day Four is ugly. We hold most of this conversation standing outside the hotel, smoking and sniping at each other, until some guys from the bar invite us to a party. As the oldest sister, with the best tolerance for booze, I decline politely and firmly. No stranger parties at 3 am. No way, no how.
The drunkest sister decides that if I won’t let her leave, she should invite these strangers up to our room where I have a bottle of wine. Another veto. I am rapidly becoming the “UnFun One” or as I like to think of it, “The Safe One When It Comes to Stranger Danger.” So, while I step out to light a cigarette and have my back turned, boom! Missing sister. Or as The Lady said when I later relayed this story, “A lost party member is right up there with The Worst.”
Yep. Much more sobered, and officially pissed off I set out to search for The Adventurer. I put out an APB with the aforementioned front desk clerk, roam the few blocks around the hotel hoping that she didn’t, God forbid, get in a car, and discover that she has left her cell phone on the night stand. Thirty minutes later, as I pace up and down the front sidewalk and the youngest cries on my shoulder, the desk clerk flags me down. And there is The Adventurer smiling like a Cheshire Cat in the hotel lobby. Exhausted, we take her upstairs and everyone passes out for the night.
But, because we are, remember, in violation of the Three Day Rule, the morning starts off with the kind of screaming match that we haven’t had since high school- accusations, insults, rapidly shifting allegiances (oh, the joy of three siblings), and a moment where we all just agreed to go off and explore for the last day without one another. A real sister explosion.
And then, a tiny miracle. As The Adventurer is declaring me an old fuddy duddy and enemy of fun and just before she goes to slam the bathroom door, I say “….All you had to say was, ‘I’m sorry.’” Silence. She takes a shower and ten minutes later, she comes out with “You know… you’re right.” Contrition, hugs all around. We head off to taste Irish coffees at the bar that claims to have invented them.
That’s the way it goes with sisters. At least with mine. And while I’m not thrilled that they feel the need to have opinions about my life that I disagree with, there’s no way I could stop them from sharing them. That’s how it works.
We find each other when we wander off; we find our ways back to each other every time.