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Sisterhood 101

Natalie Torta, C'24

Welcome back to my page, Mounties! I am proud to announce that I am not a caffeine addict, despite the fears I expressed in last week’s post. Despite several late nights spent finishing a dozen or so assignments, I feel pretty good overall.

This week in particular has been exciting because I’ve had my dad’s birthday on Thursday to look forward to. I’m not sure how family birthdays work in your family, but in ours, there are several guidelines that must be followed in the celebration. First, whoever is celebrating their birthday gets to choose dinner that night, with the rest of the family in charge of either making or acquiring it. Second, there must be decorations, which will stay up for at least a month following their birthday. These typically include streamers in whatever colors we have at the house strung haphazardly across the corners of the kitchen ceiling. Occasionally, someone will try to get fancy and create a pattern or design (or really any semblance of organization), but usually we just finish by attaching balloons to the walls with Scotch tape. Finally, the cake must be either a sheet cake from Costco or homemade. I don’t really have an explanation for this last rule, I just know that it’s always been that way and no one complains.

As my sisters and I have gotten older, we have been able to contribute more to each of the six birthdays we celebrate throughout the year. At our current ages, we now individually buy each other gifts rather than just sign the group card from the family. In recent years, my sisters have gravitated away from giant sheet cakes and closer to the endless homemade options that I help them with. Though this time spent with my sisters is something that I treasure, it has also made me realize that I don’t really know them very well. I know things about them, sure, but beyond a list of facts and favorites, I don’t really know them. Maybe you’ve experienced that same thing with your siblings if you have them. For me, it was a strange realization. I’ve lived with them all my life, even sharing a room with one of them since she was born. We literally sleep three feet apart from one another, yet all I really know about her is her favorite color (blue) and affinity for buffalo chicken. While I can accurately predict what she will order at a restaurant, it was obvious to me that we weren’t as close as I always assumed – I had mistaken physical proximity from emotional proximity.

This realization came sometime during my first semester at the Mount and was one of my motivations for going remote this semester. Being apart from them for weeks at a time made me see how much their lives intertwined with mine, but how little I had paid attention to them while I had the chance. I’m sure I was preoccupied with the typical responsibilities and worries of a high school senior – SATs, lacrosse practice, college decisions, musical rehearsal – but it makes me sad to think that I let all of that distract me from what was supposed to be my last year with them full-time. Quarantine, though not anyone’s first choice, provided me the opportunity spend much more time with them than I had before. The only problem was the external stresses that kept tensions constantly high, so we couldn’t enjoy any of the time we had. The abrupt switch to online learning, anxiety about the pandemic, and general sadness of missing friends created a lot of negative energy in our house. With those stresses removed, however, this semester has given me the opportunity to spend more time with them doing things that I didn’t even know they enjoyed. Since the beginning of the semester we’ve gone thrifting, taken night drives, had game nights, and gone on many more “adventures”. Through these outings, I’ve learned so much about my sisters that I never even thought to ask before (plus things I never wanted to know).

A common saying about siblings is that they are your “built in best friends”, but I think that is only true if you put in the work that you would a regular friendship. The effort I’ve made so far to get to know my sisters is definitely showing and I’m really looking forward to growing my friendship with them further. Who knows, maybe the next time I write, we’ll be BFFLs (with bracelets to prove it!)

Until then, go Mount!

Natalie Torta, C'24