It’s 6:02pm in Greenfield Park, Montreal. An eruption of laughter is heard inside a dimly lit dining room. The smell of red wine surrounds a table of ten. Everyone seated shares the same blood.
Well, third cousin blood. And not everyone, I guess. But lets be honest, it doesn’t matter.
Meet the Hughes (pronounced “H-YOU-z-es”, not HUG-es). This group of incredibly humble human beings sprouted from my dad's side of the family. They grew up in Montreal, but have been visiting PEI every single summer since I can remember. And they all, coincidentally, had babies around the same time.
Meet The Sisterhood. The Sisterhood consist of seven female members (and several honorary male members). The ladies include my two sisters, Brittany and Katie, and two sets of third cousin sisters: Emily and Stephanie, and Lindsay and Kate. The equation can be seen as followed, for a deeper understanding:
(Brittany + Jessica + Katie) x (Emily + Stephanie) x (Lindsay + Kate) ÷ (Montreal x PEI) =
The Sisterhood contains a variety of ages, spanning more than ten years between the youngest and the oldest. Every summer the Hughes come to PEI for their vacation, and these are without a doubt the best two weeks of the season! Endless sleepovers, trips to the beach, bonfires with smores, kitchen parties, and 'Sandspit' excursions are only a few reason why we looked so forward to it.
Ringing in the New Year with the Hughes became a family tradition. Us Gallants would hop in a crowded car, say "sayonara" to Portage Road, and drive twelve hours in the snow to get to our Montreal destination. I was always stuck in the middle seat, because I was the "Middle Child", but the lack of foot space and numb legs always turned out to be worth it. Pulling into Norbert and Bernadette's driveway was like arriving at Disney World. Norbert and Bernadette are basically our third set of grandparents. These two never hesitated to let us bunk in their adorable Montreal home, complete with pull-out couch and VCR. The weekends consisted of multiple dance parties, delicious dinners, shopping on Sainte-Catherine street, and more laugh attacks than you could ever count with The Sisterhood and Hughes.
I could write about memories with The Sisterhood all day, so here are a select few that come to mind when I think of my crazy sisters:
☀︎ Singing the "Potter Puppet Pals: The Mysterious Ticking Noise" song all the way to Basin Head. We each had a character, I was Hermionie. Go watch it, now.
☀︎ Creating musicals in Emily and Stephanie's basement. The most memorable for me was "Peter Pan". Brittany played Captain Hook, and we choreographed a sword fight to the "Happy Days" theme song. Katie, Stephanie and Kate played "The Lost Girls", if I remember correctly.
☀︎Ten of my cousins wishing three year old Stephanie a "bonne nuit" in our old cottages, and her screaming back at us in french. We never had any idea what she was saying.
☀︎ Covering the windows of Brittany's bedroom with garbage bags, refusing to go to town for shopping and Cows ice cream, and staying up till three AM trying to solve the latest Nancy Drew computer game.
☀︎ Jumping off the warf at Basin Head all day, then going to Norbert and Bernadette's cottage for mussels. If we stayed the night, we would usually have a bonfire, fall asleep to a movie with sunburns and salt water bathing suits, and repeat the next day.
☀︎ Lindsay's La Ronde story. NEVER. GETS. OLD.
☀︎ Sing Star (on Playstation 2), particularily "Take A Chance on Me" by ABBA.
☀︎ Every dinner gathering we've ever had
☀︎ Dancing at Brittany and Jordan's wedding
☀︎ Begging our parents to bring us to 'Sandspit' (an amusement park on PEI), only to have Kevin (Lindsay's Dad) get puked on riding the Ferris Wheel.
☀︎ I'm thinking of a story right now and it's just too complex to explain. It ends with us dancing around a pile of sand chanting "Da Balls" repeatedly.
If you were to ask me what my favourite memory has been with The Sisterhood, I wouldn't know where to begin. I find that pretty spectacular. We have experienced, what seems like, a lifetime of memorable moments that flash through my head like a lightning storm. It's just crazy for me to think that we only see each other 14 days out of 365 (max), and the connection remains as strong as steel. Time is so precious, and when we're together we take advantage of every moment. Don't worry- this still hasn't changed. My trip to Montreal this week was just a reminder of how much I love these girls.
We all have to give it up to our parents. They have showed us what true friendship looks like and how precious family is. They have watched us grow up, and grow closer and closer as the years go by. I call the Hughes my aunts and uncles, when in reality they're my second cousins.
As I get older, I cherish this special this bond is between Emily, Stephanie, Lindsay, Kate, Brittany, Katie and I more and more. We have been together since we were in diapers, and that's never going to change. I love you girls so much!
A picture tells a thousand words. Here are a zillion photos of The Sisterhood and our family throughout the years.
My playlist writing this post:
▸ Parade (Manhattan Concert Productions)
- My boyfriend and many friends had the opportunity to perform at the Lincoln Centre in New York this week!! Jason Robert Brown (the composer of Parade) conducted, and they were part of incredibly star studded cast! Check out a video segment here!!
Do you have any hilarious memories with your cousins growing up? Maybe a best friend you've known since elementary school? When we get together, it's non-stop chatter around a dinner table, constant swimming at the beach, or playing our favourite computer games. What are your favourite things to do with your lifelong family or friends? I'd love to hear! Happy Thursday!
Lots of Love,
For anyone who knows my BFBF (Best friend/ Boyfriend), Luc Trottier, they know that his movie collection is his pride and joy. More than often I come home to find him sitting in front of his shelf, simply admiring his impeccable collection. There isn't a bad movie on that shelf. It's truly an incredible sight.
Luc and I were deciding on a movie to watch, and he proceeded to pick his top ten all-time favourites just for kicks (this took approximately 45 minutes). I later asked him to make a list of his top five favourite TV shows, and he went above and beyond. It was impossible for me not to share this. Best part? No spoils!
I give you:
✭✭"Luc's Fav TV Shows for Jessica"✭✭
**His title. Keep in mind that Luc is the narrator here. He literally wrote all this for me**
How could this show not be on here? I call it the "Re-run King". In fact, I never watched it in syndication until the finale. But since it ended this has become the easiest show to watch after a long day. Better yet, I got the complete series and can pop it in anytime. The best sitcom ever. Period. No sitcom has created six more likeable characters. Ever. Kudos for a beautiful ending as well.
(Hi, this is Jessica, I love this show!)
4. Game of Thrones
HBO is the most innovative network in the world and this is their pearl. G.O.T. has flipped TV on its head with its incredible budget and shocking twists/turns. Literally no one is safe. For example, "The Red Wedding". Need I say more? The cinematography and sets are beautiful, but without amazing characters it would mean nothing. Game of Thrones has it all. Kick ass story, kick ass cast, kick ass music. A nerd's heaven. Bring on Season 5!
(Jessica here. I haven't seen this either. But it's added to my list. Thanks Luc!)
3. House of Cards
Netflix is the future. And House of Cards made it its bitch. Releasing an entire season at once has created a generation of binge watchers who want it ALL. NOW. No commercials, no waiting. You just lock yourself in your room and escape for hours. But with this show comes the highest quality of television. I mean, the first two episodes are directed by the legendary David Fincher. Kevin Spacey is perfection as the brilliant Frank Underwood, and with Robin Wright as Claire on his side makes for a brilliant two seasons. If the third season is anything like the first two, this may go down as the best television shows in history.
(Jessica again, I haven't watched this show but it sounds like I must!)
2. Breaking Bad
I just finished BB for my second time and I hate to admit- it almost took my top spot. This show is fascinating. The character arc of Walter White from Season 1 to Season 5 is the greatest arc of any character EVER on television. This is because of Bryan Cranston who delivers the best performance I have ever seen on a show. BB never tried to commercialize or sell out- it followed a plan from its creator and has a perfect beginning, middle and end. Full of heart, action, romance, and major twists, this show will go down as the best of the decade. God bless you, Vince Gilligan. I can't wait for my third round.
(You've probably noticed by now that I'm [I'm as in Jessica] not a big TV watcher. I just started watching this yesterday because of Luc's obsession. IT'S AMAZING)
For everyone who knows me, my #1 is no surprise. LOST defined my childhood and it will always be my favourite show. I was hooked from day one, and no show has EVER made me feel so attached to it. I would read message boards, all books on LOST, and buy all the seasons so I could watch them during the summer to prepare for the new season. (He also has LOST Barbies. "Action Figures", he calls them.. But they're def Barbies.. Don't tell him I told you). This show changed TV forever in its brilliant episodic format, focusing on multiple characters and their flashbacks. The writers never failed to be the most creative writers in the game, adding flash-forwards, time travel, all to please their loyal fan base who just craved more. I love each and every character and miss them all dearly. The ending never ceases to make me cry (for all you haters who hated it, you don't understand it. PM me if you want a legit explanation. You need to understand). It was a beautiful way to end my childhood obsession. I cannot wait to sit down with my boy and see his face as we go through the seasons together. It will be a dream come true.
LUC'S HONORABLE MENTIONS:
- The Office
- How I Met Your Mother
- True Detective
- Arrested Development
- Whose Line is it Anyway?
and most recently...
- Grey's Anatomy (because I forced him to).
Shows Luc MUST Watch:
- The Sopranos
- The Wire
- The West Wing
Comment below if you have any suggestions for Jess and I to watch!
Special thanks to Mr. Luc for creating this absolutely adorable list for me. He never intended it to be featured on Portage Road Diaries, but he so kindly allowed me to post it.
Check out my Youtube series, "Singing in the Shower With Jess" this week for an original tune by yours truly! Watch and subscribe here! Thanks so much for tuning in every week and reading my blog!
My Playlist writing this week's post:
▸ Morning Phase by Beck!
Won "Album of the Year" at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards! Hauntingly catchy melodies!
Lots of Love xo,
Orlando, Punta Cana, The Bahamas, and Portage Road. What do they all have in common? They're some form of ‘paradise’. Growing up on a road with my Grammie and Granda ten strides away, a huge back/side/front yard, the greenest grass you'll ever see, and a turnip field for sledding was not too shabby. Portage Road symbolizes so many things for me: family, freedom, nature, adventure, love, tranquility, serenity. I'm throwing it back this Thursday, listing some of my favorite things about growing up on Portage Road!
Every summer, I ride my bike down our red dirt road to pick some scrumptious blueberries. I always thought these blueberries were wild, but they're actually fields owned by a company.. Unfortunately, I learned that the hard way. One radiant summers day, I stepped in the field and a gunshot went off. Naturally, I screamed at the top of my lungs and just... ran. “This is it, I’m going to die”, was all I could think. Turns out it was a sensor they use to keep crows out. Who knew it would also keep Jessica's out? Stick to scarecrows, please.
Remember when you were a kid and summer was just a massive chunk of free time? No job (awesome), no school (awesome), and no license (iffy). If you lived in the country, like me, you couldn’t walk to a movie theatre or a mall. We were forced to imagine fun activities, and my idea of fun was juggling my soccer ball. For hours, and hours… and hours. Barefoot in the sun, everyday June-September, I kept the ball in the air as long as I could. I then proceeded to use our soccer net's post as a ‘passing partner’... I should create a list, “Things I Use To Do Before Facebook”, that would be number one for sure. My sister, Katie, once spent a whole summer teacher herself how to do a handstand into a back-walkover! Who needs gymnastics when you have a backyard!
Learning to Drive
I have this vivid memory of driving in our little red hatchback... In a field... With very, very, VERY tall grass. Did I mention my three year old sister behind the wheel driving? Don't worry, she was on my dads lap. Gosh, I remember laughing so hard I couldn't breath. We were swerving left and right, not knowing what direction we were going whatsoever! This isn't something you would normally think to do in your spare time, and it's wasn't necessarily safe... But man oh man, that memory is as clear as a newly developed photo. Blue sky, green grass, red hatchback.
My parents would also let my sisters and I take turns driving on our way home from Sunday mass. This was the absolute highlight of my week. The minivan practically called my name during Sunday service. I could barely concentrate knowing that I would get the chance to drive for TWO WHOLE MINUTES on Portage Road! It goes around in a loop, so we had a solid ten minutes to swap drivers. We only ever faced one roadblock: spring + mud = stuck mini van.
Back in the olden days, we woke up at 6AM every morning to head over to Grammie's house. Brittany, Katie (sisters), Olivia, William (cousins), Andrew, Mackenzie, Katelyn (neighbours) and myself would spend all day playing ‘school’, ‘Power Rangers’, ‘hospital’, watch cartoons, and if you were having an off day, sit in the 'time out chair' **shivers** coughKatiecough. The phrase "get outside and blow the stink off ya" was commonly heard. What was the best part of the day (and still is) you ask? Grammie's famous biscuits. I can confidently say that her baking is the best on this side of the world. Whenever you get the chance, stop by for an afternoon of tea and biscuits. You'll chat about who just drove by, what's on the front page of the newspaper, and life. Some of the most memorable conversations I've ever had are with my Grammie!
My cousins and I created the "Portage Road Animal Graveyard"... A little morbid, but our road is literally a funny farm. I think at one point between four houses we had a total of 15-20 animals. My aunt is amazing when it comes to rescuing animals, specifically dogs! Our house saw a fair share of puppies: Brandy (may he rest in peace), Chase (may he rest in peace, 2002-2012), Skeeter (......yes that was his name, and I think he lives in Florida now?), and currently, little three legged Sadie. My most fond memories are of Chase. We got him when I was ten, and he’s remembered as the friendly giant. Chase was convinced he was a lap dog. Man, I miss him so much! I also had the pleasure of witnessing my wittle baby, Mikayla Rae (cat), give birth to four kittens. One morning when she was very pregnant, Mikayla jumped up on my bed projecting an odd sound. While she was lying upon me, I realized she was in labour. Talk about a wake up call! In all seriousness though, it was pretty incredible to witness, and the kittens were excruciatingly adorable. **Shout out to our other cat- Mikey (aka Michael)- who wasn’t mentioned in this section at all.
Oh, I could go on about this forever. PEI is known for it's red dirt. I never believed our dirt was actually 'red', until I moved to Ontario and returned. I was shocked. The beauty of the red dirt on green grass on blue ocean is one of the most spectacular things you could ever witness. And the grass on Portage Road isn't JUST green. You know the opening scene of The Sound of Music? Yeah. It's THAT green. You wanna talk about a clear night sky? Sit on our trampoline at midnight and witness what looks like a painting of stars. Every night I get home in the summertime, I look to my left and see the big dipper clear as day. It doesn't get much better than the fresh air of Portage Road!
I love being associated with Portage Road. It's more than just a road, it's a time capsule. I look out back and see my sisters and I playing 'house' when we were eight. I look at my home and see the place I learned to play guitar, where I found out my Grammie Gallant and uncle Rollie past away, where I woke up every Christmas morning. I look at the field next to us and see where my sister and brother-in-law will raise their kids one day. I look to the sky and see fireworks from summers past. I look down the road and see where we got chased by a beaver. It will always hold such a special place in my heart. It is quite simply, my diary.
Lots of Love xo,
My playlist while writing this post:
▸ Sacred Heart- The Civil Wars
▸ Ghost- Ella Henderson
▸ Desperado- The Eagles
▸ There's Your Trouble- The Dixie Chicks
▸ Uptown Funk- Bruno Mars (OBSESSED)
Check out my new series, "Singing in the Shower With Jess"! Click here for the latest video of me singing "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid!
Hi! I'm Jessica. I love beaches, ice cream, onesies, and cuddles. I try to follow my instincts in all aspects of life. I love hearing peoples stories; How they got to the exact moment they're in. The glass is half full. I love the big dipper. The Secret changed my life. Love is w o n d e r f u l. August 24th is my favourite day (No, it's not my birthday). YOU. ARE. ENOUGH. Yolo-ing through life, but mostly singing.