Sisters are a funny thing. It’s not a relationship with a foregone conclusion that if two girls have the same mother they will like each other. It’s not even a foregone conclusion that sisters will even look alike. Take Gabrielle and Ginger Solace, for instance.
The day Ginger was born, Gabs cried inconsolably. Like other formally only-children, I imagine even as a toddler, Gabs knew that this new creature, this “sister”, that had been growing inside her mother would thieve attention away. Gabs was only finally soothed when her grandmother bought her an oversized baby doll complete with a floral onesie and plastic pacifier. The pictures from that day show her seated in a blue vinyl hospital chair holding a tiny bundle in her arms and…she is smiling. The next photo even has her tiny pony-tailed head bent forward kissing Ginger. It’s hard to tell with three-year old’s, though, what’s real and what’s for the camera and audience.
Gabs wasn’t totally unfounded in her fear that Ginger would ruin her life. Most likely learning by example, Ginger would cry when their mother brushed her waist-length silky blond hair, she’d cry that Gabs pushed her and then neither would be able to go the movies, she’d cry when she had to do homework, she’d cry when Gabs wouldn’t play dolls with her. As you can see, crying was a common theme.
When Gabs was thirteen and in middle school, she was busy with homework and soccer and the other lip-gloss problems of a budding teenager, but every night she made sure to go into Ginger’s room and tell her goodnight. And every night Ginger would hug Gabs and beg her to stay. She would hold on and not let go until Gabs tickled her hands free.
By the time Ginger turned twelve, she finally liked to read, a common interest the two girls could connect on. At the same time, she was also taking advanced English classes and asking for Gabs’ help. She would cry in frustration as Gabs, with varying levels of patience, helped her write essays.
By sixteen, Ginger was taller than Gabs with perfect blond hair and perfect pale freckles and newly brace-straightened teeth. Gabs remained the darker sister, with deep brown hair and darkly freckled skin and teeth that weren’t perfect, but never needed braces. The only physical characteristic they shared was matching green eyes.
Ginger displayed the athletic ability and Gabs cheered her on. They played H-O-R-S-E with the driveway basketball hoop and Ginger let Gabs win sometimes. She taught Gabs to ski, more patient than Gabs ever was teaching her anything.
Last year while shopping, a store clerk asked the girls if they were related because while listening to them try on clothes, she heard a level of honesty that could only be had between sisters.
Gabs didn’t mind the fact that she became Ginger’s de-facto chauffer. Ginger didn’t mind that all Gabs did in the car was sing off-key to show tunes. They spent Sunday nights watching bad reality TV together. They liked to laugh with and at each other.
So, it’s only a little surprising to me that, at the age of eighteen, Ginger wrote her college application essay about how Gabs inspired her. It made Gabs cry to read it. Neither of them really ever grew out of their propensity for waterworks.
What I am saying is that, in this case, the two girls grew together to become sisters. It was not a preordained destiny of genetics and proximity. And neither is the rest of their story.