slice of my life

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Old Sames

I finished my book yesterday as I was waiting on my doctor to get back from delivering a baby. If I was having to get back to my job or was worried about where my kids were while I had to wait an extra hour, I would have been miffed! But I saw it as an opportunity to get some reading done. Rarely do I spend a whole hour just reading, but it makes the process more enjoyable! I got to read the most exciting part of the book all in one sitting.

This was the end of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. It's about Lily and her "old same," Snow Flower, and how their lives are intertwined in China in the mid-1800s. The "old sames" are linked together in childhood as a sort of official BFF---best friends forever. They will likely be more loving towards each other than any other relationship in their whole lives. Thier parents are raising them for the future groom's family----and often parents try to disconnect from the daughters because of this. The husbands are arranged for them, and it isn't about love or attraction, but about making a beneficial match for both parties. So the "old sames" are support for each other through their foot binding, marriages, childbirth, miscarriages, difficulties with the mothers-in-law, and in death. There is also a "sworn sisterhood" that can develop in childhood, but dissolves when they're married. Another time for the "sworn sisterhood" can come after marriage with a different set of women. Since the girls were married out to another village, they would leave all they knew and be at the bottom of the ladder in the house with the in-laws until she started producing sons (who would stay with the parents , working the family business, and would in turn would bring in their wives, to produce more sons for the family, etc.).

I did make me think about how very fortunate I am to be living where and when I am. I do not endure beatings by my parents or by my husband or his family. I did not get tucked away in an upstairs room with a bunch of ofther women trying to one-up each other with the mother-in-law. I did not have to endure harsh living conditions with high expectations of behaviors, very much dictated to me by society. I did not have to put aside my love for my daughter just because of her gender.

But there was something to be admired about the system and the bond the women felt for each other. The support they could give to each other, and this secret written language, rich with stories, songs, and poems. I hope that I can cultivate this kind of relationship more and more. There are just some things that are between women, that only women can support other women in. An attitude of "oh, I've been there!" and advice.

I did like this book a lot. There was a lot of death---which I suppose was part of life back then. That made for some sad parts. I was surprised by some of the twists in the plot, and I love that. I was disappointed in the main character at times, and in her "old same." They didn't always do the thing that would have been best. But isn't that true to life?

So, do you have an "old same" or a "sworn sisterhood" in your life? I am pondering this topic for a few days myself.


  • I am blessed to have an "old same" ... my sister, Shea. Like you, I hope to develop more relationships like that. Alas, it's tough to let others know the real you ... the petty you. I suspect it's worth it ... I suspect the courage to take such risks comes with maturity!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Saturday, November 18, 2006 9:50:00 PM  

  • I thought about my sister as my old same, too. These sisters have been there from the beginning, haven't they? And they'll be there to the end, I hope.

    By Blogger jenny, at Saturday, November 18, 2006 10:11:00 PM  

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