Tomorrow, I will be helping my little sister, Neekers move into her dorm room. It seemed like it would be a long time in coming. In some ways, it has been. In other ways, it’s been like sleeping and finding that someone ran off with the clock and the calendar.
But before I let the thieves run too far, there are a few things that need to be said. Really, they need to be written down, so that they don’t disappear somewhere.
1. I’m the one who carried you into the house the day that we brought you home from the hospital. I don’t know why Mom and Dad let me. I was seven-almost-eight and I had already skinned every elbow and knee I owned walking down that same sidewalk. They had a perfectly good eleven-year-old and a perfectly good fourteen-year-old, either one of which could have done the job. I sort of imagine myself grabbing you and bolting, like I’d gotten the last cookie from the cookie jar.
Getting you safely to the couch is still on my Top Ten List of Life Achievements.
Getting you safely into your dorm room? I’m hoping that will feel about the same. I went to the same college and I skinned my knees on that sidewalk too.
2. You’re the reason I cry at the beginning of The Hunger Games. I would have volunteered too, and I think it would have taken me a week to realize I was saving your life. I would have done it just to steal the pain from you.
Call me if you ever need to be robbed.
3. Thanks for following me into every fictional world that I dragged you into. Even when there were vampires everywhere.
Adventures are too big to walk into alone, and you were an excellent – oddly starlight bright – shadow.
I promise, it’s not over yet.
4. You’ve been Pippin, curious and happy, and I’ve been Merry, getting you into trouble at every gleeful opportunity. I’ve been Dean, protective and outrageous and brash, while you’ve been Sam, too smart by half, sweet, and dangerous. You’ve been Rory, quiet and determined, and I’ve been Lorelai, loud and full of abrupt surprises.
I’ve been Bucky, and you’ve been Steve.
You’ve been Kili, and I’ve been Fili.
I’ve been Lizzie, and you’ve been Jane.
You’ve been Julius, and I’ve been Justin.
It goes on forever, doesn’t it?
But I like it best when you’re Neekers, and I’m Gwen. I can’t wait to see what the world looks like after we’ve turned it upside down. (You can put it right-side up again if it looks silly.)
5. When I went to school, I gathered up a group of friends thick as thieves. We called ourselves Tinker Belles, Ravenclaw, Pirates, and Ninjas. I’m not sure why we decided that we needed names, but they’re ours now and Shetland Ponies couldn’t take them away from us.
I hope you don’t mind, but I’m calling your friends The Howling Commandos, because that’s the kind of friends I’m wishing on you. Good luck. ;)
6. Fear is the single worst navigator in the world.
I’m not going to lie and tell you that it’s not useful, but I’m just going to remind you that its English is very poor. Nine times out of ten, it means to gently tell you that you should be careful where you put your feet as you move forward, but ends up screaming in your ear MOVE NOT YOU NO!
The tenth time, it means it, but its tone is completely different.
7. I’m proud of you.
8. A few nights ago, when you came into my room, hugged me, and told me very quietly that you were going to miss me, I added another moment to my Top Ten List of Marvelous Gifts.
And baby girl, I’m going to miss you, too.