Someone once said that sisters are different flowers from the same garden. As a bossy big sister I think sometimes I’ve been closer to the crab grass on the lawn. How could practical, list-making, over-achieving me share DNA and the dawn of our personal stories with a sibling who never owned a watch, reads fantasy science fiction, and has the audacity, even now, to have the body of a ballerina? While it’s true we both hate shopping malls, roller coasters and scary movies… and it’s true I know if she’s smiling, even in the dark…when it came time to decide where to go on a long promised run-away-from-home, we were worlds apart.
“Canyon Ranch,” I suggested. “Sedona,” Karen countered. “Las Vegas could be fun.” “Sedona,” she repeated. She nixed South Beach, San Francisco, Costa Rica and Santa Fe. All I knew about her first … and last… choice consisted of a conversation with a neighbor who came back from Arizona and said “Thank God they know when the sun is setting. Otherwise no one in Sedona would ever know what time it is.” Jeez. Crystals and affirmations, vortexes and meditations. So not me.
“I heard about a place named Enchantment… seriously, how can we not go there? They have an incredible spa … you’ll relax, I promise.”
Now we choose our friends and acquire our enemies but sisters come with the territory. Mine also came with an enthusiasm for all the New Age hoogie moogie I spent years smirking about. Karen is gifted with a child’s capacity to see things through fresh eyes. I am an information addict. The facts were clear… it would be easier for me to be happier fulfilling her dream than she would be satisfying mine.
Our stay in Sedona included equal parts breath taking geology, authentic Native American culture, and therapeutic spa treatments. Traditional science might not support the presence of the vortex on the resort’s property but my sister’s racing heart and the hairs standing up on her arms sure did. After a day of hiking, massage, dream analysis, star gazing and a prickly pear margarita, I had to agree this was beyond enchanting…it was a rare and magical place. Looking up at the wilderness of cliffs and canyons and the towering red rock walls of Northern Arizona, 65 million years in the making, I couldn’t count all the ways this was a better vacation than Las Vegas.
I could have predicted certain things… having to listen to Led Zeppelin for two and a half hours on the trip from the airport, one of us showering with hair conditioner (who that is changes from trip to trip), getting lost in the blackness of night for what seemed like hours, trying to find our casita… what was surprising was how differently I now feel about all things Shirley McClaine. This adventure revealed that liberal, open minded me hides a condescending, judgmental soul. Just because cynical people roll their eyes whenever they hear the word “crystal” doesn’t mean they’re smarter or better informed… it just means they’re cynical. Where’s my data to support that if you’re stressed out and your shoulders touch your ears you understand more about the universe than the healthy, clear eyed people oozing well being in Sedona?
Our long weekend away fulfilled every goal of traveling somewhere brand new… it was challenging, awe inspiring, life enhancing and fun. But more than anything, it reaffirmed that my longest relationship illustrates the bond between, as Patricia Volk said, “best friends who make other best friends ever so slightly less best.”