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Of Peach Peeling and Sisterhoods

As a child, I loved waking up to the smell of coffee. It meant one thing, Grandma Jennie was visiting. When I was twelve, my family moved to Pablo Canyon ranch in rural Nevada where my grandma spent the summers with us. It gave me many more opportunities to wake up to that smell.

I loved lots of things about my grandma. The way she applied her bright lipstick to both lips at once. The crazy-colored Bill Cosby sweaters she wore. The way she pointed her toe when she crossed her leg and how she always said “comical” instead of “funny.” But the thing I loved most was her peach peeling parties.

When the fruit was ripe and dropping from the trees, she’d call up all of her cronies in the valley. She’d brew some coffee and set out the iced oatmeal cookies and all of the ladies would sit in a circle in the living room with huge mixing bowls of peaches on their laps. These peeling parties were the times I remember my grandma the happiest.

I’ve always been an observer, even as a child. And I would pull up a footstool and do my best to mimic their technique so I could peel a peach without nicking the flesh. I’d usually fail and end up eating the evidence while I listened to them laugh and tell stories. Their happiness was contagious. Like Christmas and Thanksgiving, these get-togethers produced a feeling of contentment and closeness that I wanted to soak in. My mom would sometimes laugh and tell me that I didn’t have to stick around to peel peaches, but I always wanted to stay.

I liked seeing my grandmother that happy. I liked hearing stories of their mishaps, and triumphs and tragedies. There was a palpable sisterhood in that room and even as a young girl with a sticky face, I was invited. Invited to laugh, invited to learn, invited to be happy.

As an adult, I sometimes find it hard to reach out and be social. Luckily I have friends who are resilient and keep inviting me to get together. Sisterhoods don’t come naturally to me. But like all skills, including skills for happiness, I can develop new ones. I can peel back the layers of my shyness and call the circle together in my own way. A lunch date. A walk. A video message.

I can connect. Eye to eye. Heart to heart. And you can too.


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