Fairies by Flo’s shots 4 me (http://www.flickr.com/photos/florencia123/)
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I am a Yaya. A princess Yaya, that is. And oh, how I love this little tiny bit of (pretend, but very real in my heart) royalty.
Did you ever see that movie Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood? Here is a very brief summary: there is a group of girls growing up in the 50’s who are best friends. They have a secret club, as most little girls do at some point, and they name themselves the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. They sneak out late at night in their jammies, have a little bonfire, wear silly crowns and swear their loyalty to each other forever and ever. Their friendship lasts into adulthood, and when of the Ya-Ya’s has relationship difficulties with her daughter, the remaining friends kidnap the adult daughter. They sneak her away to the family cabin to try to get her to come to reason with her mom’s history and why she is the way she is.
That’s a terrible rendition, but it’s the core of the movie. But here’s where it turns really fun… during the summer of 2002 after the movie came out, on some random weekend my extended family and I all sat on my grandmother’s patio talking. Somehow the movie came up and someone decided it would be really fun if we had a Yaya weekend. Somewhere where all the girls could get away – no husbands, no kids, and just be us for a weekend. We would make fun drinks, get pedicures, swim, and basically just have a fun weekend together celebrating us.
And so it was born. On the weekend after Labor Day 2002, my aunt, mother, sister, grandmother and I gathered at my grandmother’s house. We giggled and laughed and did no cooking. We drank copious amounts of alcohol, swam at my great uncle’s home (he wasn’t allowed to join us except for one cocktail since we were, after all, using his pool), and waited for Saturday night. And when Saturday night arrived, my grandmother pulled out beautiful crowns she had made for each of us. We pulled chairs into a circle under the crabapple tree in the backyard, and we lit a bonfire. And that’s where the real magic of Yaya began.
We had no idea, that first year, what a precious thing we were creating. We had no idea how seriously we all would take Yaya, and how much it would grow and morph over the years. But I will tell you this… there is nothing quite like the honesty and love and support you get from a group of women who love you. Who have known you since you had buck teeth and skinned knees, and watched you dress up for prom. Who kissed your newborn baby and comforted you when your marriage was falling apart. There is very little in the world that is more beautiful than the night when one of the Yayas was seriously ill, and the other princesses drove over state lines, donned the crowns and snuck into the ICU late at night, to giggle and hug and love the sick princess. Or the coronation of a baby Yaya, who was born much, much too early and had to become a Yaya right away. That baby Yaya is now a healthy, happy 9-year-old, and while I’m sure it very much has to do with the powers of modern medicine, there may be a little bit of Yaya magic sprinkled in there, too.
In two weekends, the princesses and I will be coming together to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Yaya. Ten years. It is staggering to me what has changed over those ten years. I can’t begin to express the enormity of our losses, and the significance of our gains, in what life has dealt each of the princesses in the past ten years.
But one thing remains… we are still together. We are still gathering to light that midnight bonfire. To celebrate love and family and all the things that matter to each of us.
I am so honored, and blessed, to be a Yaya princess.