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  • Writer's pictureJonathan David Cain

Community: My "Sisters" - "Dirty Friends"

Updated: Sep 4, 2023

Image: Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

When prompted by the topic of ‘community,’ I immediately thought more about family. To me, community represents the people we hold closest – to me, that’s family. Anyone who knows me can tell you that if you are near long enough, I begin to tell you that you’re family. Families are both sacred and funny things. Family can mean the people with whom you share a blood relationship, or family can be those with whom you share a close bond regardless of kinship. Some of my closest people are individuals with whom I share absolutely no kinship but a deep and abiding love. Two of my dearest friends are my ‘Sisters.’

I’ve grown up with two older brothers but no sisters, so these relationships are markedly different, and I would tell you dramatically closer. I know day or night that I can reach out to either of my sisters and get advice, love, or brutal honesty — these are your ‘dirty friends.’ Not everyone has them, but everybody needs at least one. These are the people with whom you share such a deep connection that you can be totally vulnerable and know that either they will hold space for you to heal or tell you the raw truth without fear of your rejecting them for it. These are sacred relationships and are rare.

Your dirty friends will listen to you rant and rave at two in the morning — not us…We are all over fifty and in bed, sound asleep by 10 p.m. When you are done spinning out, they simply say, “Feeling better?” and help you make sense of the world. They can hear you at your worst, see you at your lowest, and make no judgments. They offer you complete love. I’ve been ‘Bubba’ to my sisters through divorce, job transitions, health concerns, and deaths. The three of us look after each other in ways our blood families don’t or can’t. I know they will be there for me when I need them, giving me great calmness in my spirit. I am blessed to have Sister Melissa and Sister Lynn.

In counselor speak the unrelated people we gather around us can be a ‘constructed family’. These are the people we choose to have in our life. They can still express the same problems and awkward dynamics of blood relation families, but thankfully, we get to acknowledge that, for whatever reason, we have chosen them to be a part of our lives. If you have this level of bond with a few people, be grateful and at ease.


Jonathan Cain is a native of Florence, Alabama, and has been the current Curator for the Tennessee Valley Museum of Art located in Tuscumbia, AL, since January 2020. He functioned in that role previously for several years before leaving to pursue a career in education. He holds an undergraduate degree in graphic design from the University of North Alabama and graduate degrees from both the University of Mississippi (MFA – Sculpture) and the University of North Alabama (MA – Clinical Mental Health). He is an eclectic artist who likes to pursue many different media.

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