It is possible that I am not a morning person. It is also possible that anyone who woke up to the foreboding, heavy darkness of a particularly cold and dull Johannesburg morning could have been summarily converted to be of similar mind to me irrespective of their previous inclinations. I left home prepped for the Journey Of No End, convinced that my winter coat, scarf and menacing scowl would be sufficient to ward off the damp chill in the air. Two things happen early into the Journey Of No End; one, I put together a convincing argument that the drivers around me are guided by phantom spirits who whisper such guiling fantasies that the drivers are unable to see or consider anyone but themselves. Two, the banal reality quickly filling my breathing space by a popular talk radio station threatens to unhinge me. There is but one solution and I reach across to the glove compartment where Husband stores his traffic fines, a collection of lost and lonely pens and the CDs that he has stolen from me over the years. When I find an Alanis Morisette album in my hand, in fact not just an Alanis Morisette album, but the Alanis Morisette album, it’s a flood of memories as I remember my teenage angst. The memories make me smile, not because I remember how foolish I was but because I remember the girls who sang Alanis Morisette songs, the girls who filled my house and my sister’s life, the girls who still hold dear the bond created all those years ago. They were the girls who sang Alanis Morisette songs, they were my sister’s sisters and their continued faith in each other and in their friendship, makes me feel like there is something right in this world.
Truth be told, I always harboured the thought that there was something terribly wrong with my sister and her friends. The fact that they were two years ahead of me in school automatically qualified them as odd and to make matters worse and they always did things together (I know, this is a very strong argument). I don’t just mean they did the fun things together like going to the movies or house parties and talking about boys but they’d also randomly decide to do strange things together. I’ll never forget the great fight of ’98 when my sister innocently asked to borrow my mother’s dress because all her girlfriends had decided to wear dresses to school the next day. Although the fight was, as were all the fights between my sister and mother, incredibly entertaining, when I saw my sister stand amongst her other dress wearing friends the following day, I just didn’t get it. Mind you, this was the very same sister who would make me change my clothes should I accidentally have anything on my person that even remotely matched a colour she was wearing so I couldn’t understand her preoccupation with matching this lot. I think I secretly liked their band of merry almost-women, oddities included because in being my sister’s sisters they had also done something else, they had included me in their madness. They big sistered me as part of the package, but of course in the way that is only possible when you don’t have any familial ties and when you haven’t experienced the soul destroying fights about stealing each other’s clothing. They also did something else, something far more remarkable than I can describe, they stuck in their togetherness.
When I listen to Alanis Morisette now, well I don’t listen as much as I sing (scream) along mimicking her accent (never skimp on the accent), I think about those girls who sang those songs. I wonder if now, as wives and mothers, as seasoned travelers and as friends if they still sing Alanis Morisette songs and I hope in my heart of hearts that they do. I hope that when they do they remember how their friendship began and they remember what’s kept it strong all these years later. To all my sister’s sisters, you inspire me and give me faith in the power of friendship and sisterhood and of course, in the power of Alanis.