|Personalize your own picture collage|
Ladies and gentlemen: the unthinkable is about to happen. Eli is about to graduate from college, thus thrusting her into the world of adults where she will have to fend for herself and act like...well, as grown as she can act.
Not gonna lie: when I was putting together this little collage, I found myself tearing up a bit. I mean, this is my kid sister we're talking about. This is the little girl who I taught to say "nostril" as her first word. This is the girl who still seems to get away with murder. This is the girl who was so mischievous growing up that my folks switched the lock on her bedroom door so they could keep her in her room, only to have her lock a babysitter in her room years later while she ran a muck. This is the girl that it is all fun and games with until she decides Lee and I are ganging up on her and then she makes herself cry (and we're the ones getting blamed). This is the girl who slept on an air mattress in my living room for an entire summer just so she could live in FL (and paid rent! score for the mere mere!). This is the girl who I convinced to be my caddy at the driving range simply because "everyone needs a caddy at the driving range". This is the girl who I literally beat up because she resisted wearing the prom dress I had chosen for her and our brother threatened to kill if she breathed a word about his speeding ticket to our parents (and she honestly believed he would kill her for like six months or something ridiculous). I read somewhere that only sisters can understand how you can love someone so dearly and want to wring their neck all at the same time. Truer words have never been spoken, I'd say.
But I found myself tearing up for not only those things, but also because this is the girl that really thinks I am awesome (she has not been fooled). If she is wearing something I like, she usually gives it to me if I ask nicely. I mean shoot, just last weekend I made out with several pairs of hankies, a sweater and some sorority t-shirts. If I am tired or whiney (so, basically most of the time), she will go fetch things for me so I don't have to get up. My Amie always used to say that blood was thicker than water, and this girl proves my Amie was right. My sister is extremely loyal and always has my back. If you are afraid to date Taylor Swift because of the things she may sing about you, you should be afraid to date me because of the things Eli may do to you. In public. There are reasons why my girlfriends and I have re-enacted, over and over again, scenes from Eli going literally biserk on people who have wronged me. Besides being loyal, she is kind and tender-hearted (whatever that means). She loves coercing everyone into watching a movie just to trick us into watching home videos of her as a baby. She will be madder than mud at you one minute and then sweet as pie the next. She's funny. She excels in the art of rap writing. She has a weird love for Cher and used to steal my Jessica Simpson wig, turn on "do you believe in love after love" as loud as she can and then dance around. Here's the thing about her dancing: she's got way more rhythm than her big sister. She can drop it like it's hot at 6a and then again at midnight. I mean, she wasn't the mountain man mascot at App State for nothing. She's compassionate. She's always up for a good time. She gets mad and says I'm bossy, but she always does what I say, err, I mean ask. I'm pretty sure she secretly believes she is one degree away from being a Kardashian. She's smart and she's a really talented writer. We share a love of gangsters, Ed Hardy hats and diamond studs. I could continue listing all the things I find fabulous about my sister. But I won't. Because she's only 21 and she still has a long fabulous life ahead of her.
Honestly, there were times we (as in her brother and I. I'm sure her parents always figured she'd get to this point) wondered if she'd ever make it to college. We certainly both feel like she probably shouldn't be graduating. Because not only does that mean scrappy Eli is unleashed on the rest of the world, it also means we're getting really old. It's a strange thing to see your baby sister all growed up. Sometimes she says stuff and she sounds like Justin Bobby. Other times, she says stuff and I am amazed that this young woman next to me is my sister. I've often said that I wish I could have been as secure in myself and confident about my life as she is when I was her age. I am so thankful to have her as my sister and I'm even more thankful that we were able to share last summer together. The summer before she graduated college. The summer she turned 21 under my supervision (yes). I credit that with taking our relationship from sisters to friends. to best friends.
So here's to you Eli. I am so proud of you but I'm even more proud of myself for raising up a sister like you. Most of the time, you're not too shabby (scrappy, yes. shabby, no). I can't wait to see what kind of trouble we can get into now that we're BOTH adults. And just for you, because you graduated college, I'm going to do the one thing you always say I never do for you. I'll get in the ocean and swim with you this summer. And I will relish in my qt with my sis in the dirty, dirty ocean water.
just remember: I carry your heart with me. I carry it in my heart. I am never without it. Anywhere I go, you go, my dear. And whatever is done by only me... is your doing, my darling. I fear no fate... for you are my fate, my sweet. I want no world, for, beautiful... you are my world, my true. Here is the deepest secret no one knows. Here is the root of the root... and the bud of the bud... and the sky of the sky of a tree called life... which grows higher than the soul can hope... or mind can hide. It is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart. I carry your heart. I carry it in my heart.