In case you haven’t heard (which you probably have), my sister – well, foreign exchange student – went home on Wednesday of last week. I’ve had a lot of people ask me how I’m doing with that, and the answer is usually about the same: I’m a mess. I feel like I’m just barely holding it together. I’m crying all the time, and it’s triggered by anything. I mean, Wednesday night I cried because we had shrimp for dinner. (Granted, there is a little bit of background on the whole shrimp thing, but still.) How ridiculous! Crying over shrimp!
Sidenote: Tess doesn’t like shrimp. It’s pretty much the only food she doesn’t like. So I didn’t really appreciate that the first night she was gone was the night we had shrimp for dinner. ‘Nuff said.
After spending a year with Tess, I learned a lot. She taught me things I never expected to learn from her. For starters, she taught me about style. Anyone who knows Tess knows that she dresses a little, well… different. She doesn’t really care what everyone else is wearing. She cares about what she thinks looks good, and what she wants to wear. And after spending almost a year with her, I ended up adapting to that mindset, also. I found myself shopping for brightly colored tights at Kohl’s the other day. My favorite store ever is Forever 21, because they have those funky fashion pieces you can’t find anywhere else. I wear Converse with everything, even dresses, because that’s what I want to wear, not what the rest of the world is wearing. I have a new courage that I owe all to Tess.
Tess also taught me a lot about sharing. If you haven’t noticed, I have a little bit of only child’s syndrome. (Ok, maybe more than a little…) I don’t share well. At all. But by the end of the school year, I was more than willing to let Tess borrow anything of mine that she wanted. It got to the point where she didn’t even have to ask. 10 months ago, I’d have probably ripped someone’s head off if they wore my clothes without asking. And I’d have probably refused, even if they did ask. But sharing a home and sharing my room and sharing my wardrobe with Tess helped me loosen up a little about the whole what’s-mine-is-mine mind set.
Along the same lines, Tess’s positive attitude and extreme right-brained mentality helped me become more flexible when it comes to schedule and routine and such. She showed me that a little change in schedule isn’t going to hurt. She showed me that when something catches me off guard, I really can handle it. When something crazy and unexpected happens, I know that everything’s going to be ok.
I’m sure you all know that I don’t really do well with people and relationships and such. In general, I just don’t connect to people. Maybe it was the whole sharing-a-room thing, or maybe it’s just her awesomeness, but Tess really was the exception to my anti-relationship curse. Initially I figured saying goodbye would be easy. I mean, heck, I never make connections with anyone; why would this be any different? But Tess really became my sister and closest friend. And then her mom and sister came to stay with us, and I fell in love with them, too. The only thing harder than saying goodbye to a loved one is saying goodbye to three of them all at once. Seriously, hardest day of my life to date.
But the difficulty of saying goodbye just means that the relationship we built is that great.
I’ve had a lot of people tell me that they’re surprised that we’re “going through this again.” In response, I would gladly open up my home, my room, my wardrobe, and my life to a million other foreign exchange students if it means that I can meet someone who is half as good of a friend as Tess is. So yah, I’m definitely “going through this again.”
I love you. I’m so proud to be your sister.