Friday, September 01, 2006

Old Same

One day in the 1960s an old woman fainted in a rural Chinese train station. When the police searched her belongings in an effort to identify her, they came across papers with what looked to be a secret code on them. This being the height of the Cultural Revolution, the woman was arrested and detained on suspicion of being a spy. The scholars who came to decipher the code realized almost at once that this was not something related to international intrigue. Rather, it was a written language used solely by women and it had been kept a "secret" from men for a thousand years. - From the acknowledgement section of the book Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

The book, a work of fiction, is based upon a real written language that existed in a remote area of the southern Hunan provence in China for thousands of years. Nu Shu was created by women, for women, as a way to secretly communicate their thoughts and feelings. In the book the main character Lily forms a lifelong relationship with Snow Flower, who she then considers her an "old same" (similar to a sworn sisterhood or maybe a best friendship between women).

This was the first book selection at my online book club, The Written Word. One of the discussion questions I posted today is the following: Do you think the concept of "old sames" exists today? Do you have an "old same," or are you part of a sworn sisterhood?

For me, I would have to say that I have been fortunate to have two very strong female relationships in my life.

First is my girlfriend Ariel. We have known been friends for almost twenty years now. Unfortunately, we don't reside in the same part of the country anymore and since we have such busy lives we don't communicate half as often as we should. Having said that, each time I hear from her it feels like I just spoke to her yesterday. It is comfortable.

My friend Chau, on the other hand, has only been in my life for about six years, but it might as well be sixty. We met at work and became fast friends. Joe would often work late so it would be Chau and I at the movies, Chau and I going out to dinner (you get the picture). Of course, all that changed when I gave birth to Leah and became a stay-at-home Mom. My relationship with Chau, thankfully, has stayed the same. She has been here with me through thick and thin and always makes me laugh.

So, do any of you have an "old same" out there?

On a side note, if you are interested in participate with my online book club, just stop by The Written Word and send me an e-mail. We will be picking out our next book selection soon, so be sure to check it out!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Stephanie, You have been my best friend since we were 14 and sat at the lunch room table and then you invited yourself over to my house and you always will be. I would not have survived high school with out you. It has been such a joy to me see the wonderful mom you have become. Leah and Joe are so lucky to have you. :)Ariel

Lori said...

I do, actually; two, maybe, and they both live in the same rural town in Japan. One is a middle-aged (mid-fifties, now) mother of three, who's raised all the kids to adulthood (more or less) and is now working as an aide for the elderly. Which makes her sound very saintly, but she's actually just a hoot - outspoken, perpetually tired, and always trying to do things before the "old people" (her in-laws) get too old and she has to take care of them. She's almost a second mother to me, since she kind of nurtured me through a job there, but she's also one friend I can always go back to.

The other is a twice-widowed mother of three who now lives with her middle son (who works in a local factory) and (first) mother-in-law (with whom she has a good relationship), and she's probably my closest friend in the world. We don't see or talk to each other very often, but when we do it's like coming home. She's just a 'kindred spirit'.

Susan said...

The feet binding in this book to be wanted or attractive reminded me of the way girls strave themselves today.

I have an old same and I feel blessed!
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