Every night Dusty and Honey lie in their twin beds and talk before they fall asleep.
I didn’t write that sentence. I heard it today, in the middle of a broadcast essay by Hillary Frank on This American Life. The story is about two sisters in their 70’s who are not twins but who have lived their entire lives together, buying matching clothes, eating matching foods and snacks, and making a matching life. It’s called “Matching Outfits Not Included,” and you should listen to it. The author/producer gently raises with the sisters the urgent questions of selfhood that gnaw at many of us, and the sisters gently push back. Love, not the self, is their currency.
And I love the sentence. Hearing it, I instantly pictured the sisters, like old girls, in their beds on their backs with blankets up to their chins. I superimposed on their faces the faces of my grandmother and her older sister, Mae, who lived together in later life: bickering, sharing, knitting. As I wrote down the sentence on a pink Post-it note, a beat after it was spoken, I admired the author for saving it until the middle of the piece. It would have been easy to use it as a first sentence — what great names! — like a good pick-up line. But Frank holds onto it, until the moment after she establishes the sisters’ genuine intimacy. And then the sentence brings us, the audience, in closer.