The Russian Sisters

A couple weeks ago, I attended a baby shower for one of my old roommates. I’ve always kind of had a girl crush on her. She seems so calm, feminine, generous, strong, welcoming…all the characteristics that I wanted for myself. She’s beautiful to boot, in the eastern european fashion model way that is so coveted.

She is the 4th child in a large Russian family of 6 – three older sisters, one younger sister and one very young brother. All the sisters are in their late-twenties to mid-thirties while their brother is in middle school.

I’m fascinated by her family and her culture. It’s so different from mine, yet there are so many similarities as well. They are very family oriented. Young people hold high respect for their elders. Education is important. So is status.

At the baby shower, they had a family friend in attendance who brought along a little boy with her. The lady herself was probably in her late forties or early fifties. The boy was probably around 5 years old. At one glance I could see how spoiled he was. He took things from the other kids, was rude to adults, and generally acted in a way that if I were his parent, he would be sitting on a stool, facing a corner so fast he wouldn’t know what hit him.

The mom did nothing to curb her kid. My roommate and her family patiently bore it, even when the invitation specifically said only girl children were invited as guests – they showed a lot of love for the mom and the son, which was very inspiring and very classy.

That’s a kind of classiness that I’m not sure I could ever attain, no matter how hard I try. I’m not that patient. I’m not that forgiving. I’m not that generous, neither in spirit or in material things. I can only pray that God takes my characteristics and use them for good as I am certainly not good on my own.

But my roommate, Y, is herself. And I am me. My roommate is tall, graceful, very traditional, hospitable, draws people to her and she makes them feel comfortable.

I tend towards stockiness, clumsiness, non-traditional, not terribly friendly until I get to know you better, I tend to isolate myself and struggle to feel comfortable in social settings on my own let alone help people feel comfortable with themselves.

I am also much more economical that my roommate. I’m a minimizer, a simplifier. I prioritize and organize well. I’m efficient and rarely ever late. I’m a good communicator. I aim for transparency over mysteriousness. If my roommate has the beauty of the sun, I have the beauty of the moon. More subtle, less showy. I fit in with cute, classic, or avant-garde styles rather than regal, flowery, or feminine ones. I never grew up with women who prized the feminine arts above all else and displayed them for all to see in the way they dress themselves or their homes. I grew up with more practical virtues as a higher accomplishment – how to balance the books, live within your means, donate to those who are less fortunate, choose clothes for comfort over style, organize the house for efficiency over prettiness. I’m the downstairs to my roommate’s upstairs.

But we each have our worth. And possibly, just possibly, when we take a look at each other’s realm, we wish we could be more like the other.

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