Welcome to week six of lockdown. Yesterday I watched a squirrel fight and that’s not a metaphor—there really were two squirrels battling over supremacy over the fence around my apartment building. It was thrilling, and as I could not tell the squirrels apart, I still have no idea which one won.
We are living through a strange, critical moment in the history of the world. We are staying in, hunkering down. We are taking care of each other by staying apart. And the thing I’m struck by as we all reach out, group chat, and video call one another is all of the women who have banded together.
And now the ways we are all coping—the ways we are checking in with our families and our loved ones. We’re sharing memories, we’re playing games, and we’re sending good messages of babies and fur babies and plant babies to each other—I have been thinking about my favorite girl group, the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
Here’s what I think they’re up to. And yes, I’m going based on after Forever in Blue (or Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 if you only watched the movies). Don’t @ me.
One upon a time, there was a girl named Carmen who started reading storybook fairy tales for her local library branch. She ended up doing so well that she’s now joining Zoom readings and Facebook Lives with the likes of LeVar Burton and Reese Witherspoon. She wears a conical princess hat as she reads and she does all the voices.
Welcome to the Suckumentary, volume 2.0. It started mostly Tibby filming people violating shelter in place rules, and it’s now devolved into posting thirsty TikToks. She’s still trying to figure out whether she passed or failed half of the challenges she’s tried. At least she refuses to go live on Instagram and she promises to not try making sourdough. Brian has already made several starters and dropped them off outside her apartment. They’re all slowly dying in her fridge.
Bee is teaching online HIIT and Pilates classes. And cardio boxing. She looks amazing, and she’s still wearing jeans. She’s also started organizing Zoom game nights for all of the girls. She’s got a custom Jeopardy board that she’s made, with an entire category section dedicated to different denim cuts. She’s also been contributing to the Google Maps archaeology site based on her last trip to Turkey. Bee is sheltered in place with Eric, so she’s messaging Tibby lots of concern-troll emojis whenever Tibby posts another thirsty meme.
Lena is finally, finally learning Greek. She’s been using Duolingo, but she never remembers to practice it until the owl starts yelling at her. She’s been doing live drawings every day on Twitch, which her viewers find deeply soothing, and she’s considering branching out into an ASMR Instagram account. Kostos is her most loyal viewer and she refuses to acknowledge him whenever she’s streaming. They FaceTime every day throughout all of this.
Not officially a member of the sisterhood, I know. But let’s not leave Effie out, okay? (Yes, I am a younger sister. What of it?) Effie has been posting comedy cooking routines. She gets drunk and tries to make whatever recipe Samin Nosrat just posted. Everyone else finds this funny, except for Lena.
The Pants were last seen in Greece. They are suspiciously absent during shelter in place and while nobody can say for certain, there’s more than one sister that thinks the pants might provide immunity to COVID-19, if only they could be found.
I write young adult contemporary stories. Sisterhood seems to belong only and squarely in this lane. But still, I want to provide solutions— create the girl gangs I never see. My first book, Not the Girls You’re Looking For, is about four friends who have to decide if sticking together as a group—re-upping the contract of their friendship—is worth it. I say it’s my ode to mean girls, messy friendships, and bad decisions. It’s an exploration of the tenacity and the ferocity of girl gangs. Tell Me How You Really Feel is my enemies to lovers rom-com about two girls on the opposite side of the social scale as they work together to make a make a movie. But its core is this: that ambition and drive shouldn’t get in the way of forming bonds of love, any kind of love.
But my latest, This is All Your Fault, is about that important moment: the inception of a girl gang. Three girls band together trying to save their local Chicagoland independent bookstore. They think they all know each other. They think they each have it figured out. Throughout the course of the day, they realize that the only way they stand a fighting chance against the man is by working together. By using their conflicts and their differences for a greater good.
At the end of the day, sisterhood and girl gangs belong to stories about space exploration, stories about adventures, and beyond. Because every amazing woman I know has a group chat to turn to when times get tough. And it’s time that the stories we tell started reflecting that.
Aminah Mae Safi is a Muslim-American writer who lives in Los Angeles with her partner and cat. She’s the author of YA contemporaries Not the Girls You’re Looking For and Tell Me How You Really Feel. Connect with her at aminahmae.com.
Images: Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com; Giphy 3); We Heart It; Primo Gif