It was 1968, and she came to visit us from Germany. I was 12 and she was 19–a gap as wide as the Atlantic Ocean that separated our daily lives. I mean, really, she had no interest in hanging around with a 12 year old! But, that was a long time ago (or as Cousin B would say: that was in former times). And now? Best friends, and closer than sisters
We’re connected by our maternal grandmothers, who were twins. My grandmother, being a bit more rebellious, left Germany at the age of 18, moved to Brooklyn, and never looked back. Her grandmother stayed, and raised her family in a little town in southern Germany. Over the years, we’ve marveled over our shared ancestery, but very different upbringings–me, in great big NYC, and her, in a very small village an hour away from Stuttgart. And yet, we are truly like two peas in the proverbial pod.
Cousin B introduced me to Kandinsky, all kinds of modern art (she was an art teacher for many years), and to the only perfume I’ve worn since 1985–Jill Sander Woman III. My love of modernism can be traced back to our early museum trips, when she would patiently explain every painting that we viewed, in perfect English, with her great, big Lina Wertmuller sunglasses positioned strategically on her head.
Since she visits us several times each year, Cousin B knows New York City better than any New Yorker, has gone to every hot restaurant that’s opened while she’s been here on a visit, and can negotiate price with the shop owners in Chinatown, and still leave them smiling. I learned how to navigate the subway system from her.
Since I don’t have much innate style, I rarely make big, important, life decisions without discussing them with her first by email, phone, or Skype, and if I can hold out buying or doing something until she’s here on a visit, all the better. Together, we figured out that my new sofa should be white leather, and that the “thing” I knitted could be hung on the wall as piece of art. And, thankfully, she’s stopped me from making some pretty senseless fashion purchases over the years, saving me lots of money and from seeing my husband and daughters roll their eyes even more often than they normally do.
No question, Cousin B is definitely my style muse. But, I have one question: now that my daughters are getting older and more interested in their own “looks”, do I have to share her?
Who’s your style muse?