Italy / Nepal

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Dress

Sitting on the couch, eyes transfixed on the flat-screen television in front of us, my younger sister repeatedly clicked the right arrow on her laptop keyboard–a HDMI cable connecting the laptop to the television screen so we could all see the image. She took us through her school trip to Italy and Croatia: down narrow canals in Venice, up winding staircases in Dubrovnik, and less than a foot from the infamous wildlife of Europe (mainly pigeons and stray dogs).

As she told stories and looked back on her trip, only occasionally uncertain about where a photo was taken, we listened diligently, picturing ourselves there as well. Both Natalie and I had traveled for two weeks in June and July, myself to Nepal, with one week of our travels overlapping.

So when a picture of my sister wearing a blue elephant-print dress appeared on the screen, it wasn’t hard to connect the dots.


“That’s my dress!” I yelped. Surprised to see it set against the clear blue of Croatian waters.

“Ummm…” my sister replied, carefully averting the obvious.

“My dress traveled without me!” I continued, laughing.

Natalie explained that she had needed one more dress and in the mountains of Nepal I wasn’t available to give my permission. A reasonable excuse, and one that might have caused violent argument when we were younger; today it was just funny.

We’ve shared clothes for as long as I can remember–sometimes with permission, sometimes not. We’ve shared everything really since we’ve been born. Our love of dance, our swayed back that sometimes hurts if we stand for too long, our favorite television shows and books, and to some extent a kind of telepathic connection. When sisters finish each others sentences in the movies it always seems a little far-fetched and cliche. But when it happens in real life, you feel simultaneously creeped-out and impressed.

When Natalie walked through the sliding doors at the airport with her suitcase in tow a few days before I squealed and waved my arms in the air, running in her direction. And before we had time to catch up we were already speaking the same language.

“How was the gluten-free Luftansa food?” I asked, having eaten the same meals about a week earlier when I returned from Nepal.

“Pretty good,” she replied, “except for those really hard pieces of bread.”

“Yeah!” I agreed.

“They were only good with cream cheese,” we said simultaneously, laughing at the ridiculousness of it. Only two minutes back together and we were already saying the same thing at the same time.

scarfWhen we got back home we exchanged the souvenirs that we’d been holding onto for each other. I handed her a pair of yak wool socks made from a Sherpa woman at the highest point of my trek and a pashmina scarf with a shimmery gold pattern on it: her love of socks and scarves only outweighed by her love of Doctor Who.

She reached into her overflowing suitcase to retrieve a small paper bag, pulling out a pair of silver earrings from Dubrovnik. Each had a small spherical silver ball at it’s base.

nat3“There’s some history behind these,” she explained, my love of history only outweighed by my love of Pushing Daisies. “They are modeled after the buttons that were used on the coats of royalty in Dubrovnik.”

Across countries and oceans, apart from each other, literally living on a different clock, in a different time zone, we were thinking of each other. And now returned safe and sound to our home in our little town just outside of Boston, things could slip back into their normal comfortable routine:

“Sweet, crazy conversations full of half sentences, daydreams and misunderstandings more thrilling than understanding could ever be.” Toni Morrison, Beloved.



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