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Sisterly Love: The Long Road to Home

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Happy Friday, everyone!

It’s a very exciting Friday, for two reasons.

  1. My mom is up visiting.
  2. This time next week, I will be on my way to Knoxville, TN, to visit my sister!

You may remember me mentioning my sister, who is actually my stepsister, a while back in this post.  I mentioned how our parents got married when we were younger (she 11 and I 12), and that we didn’t like each other.  And let me be very clear: we didn’t.  We did everything imaginable to get on each others nerves, and not in a sisterly way – in a very mean and hurtful way.  We were constantly out to hurt or upset each other.

Elise and Caty - wedding

This discord finally reached a resolve our senior year of high school.  Although we lived in two different towns, we were only 45 minutes apart.  With both of us having just gotten our drivers licenses, we made it a priority to see one another as often as possible.  We developed this friendship that became a gateway for inside jokes, makeup tips, and our usual 45 minute commute to go shopping.  This friendship intensified through the first year of college, while we were both still local students.

She was there, defending me growing out my bangs for the first time. 🙂

Elise had always wanted to go to UT and after “serving her time” for another year in South Carolina, she was accepted.

But UT is an awful long way from Spartanburg.

I missed her so much, and she missed me too.  I felt like our friendship hadn’t even had a chance to get started and now it was all going away.

This is us up in Gatlinburg during our freshman year, who knew I’d be going back to TN so much later?

I was part of the posse that followed Elise to Knoxville to help her move into her dorm.  It was the first time I had ever seen a dorm room and, having been a commuter my first year of school, I was absolutely enamored with it.  Now that Elise was actually moving away from the safety of her hometown, something I had also never really wanted to do up until that point, and moving into a dorm room, she just seemed like this unapproachable rockstar to me.  She was like the girl who hangs out in karaoke bars every week and finally gets picked up by a label and becomes this superstar, leaving behind everything she used to know when she was just a local.  I felt like Elise was leaving me for bigger and better things.  I wanted so badly to honor our friendship and be happy for her and her new life, but it was difficult.

197057_502525080571_2883_n

She surprised me by coming home for my 21st birthday.

After we both started our sophomore year of college, both as dorm residents, we both branched out more – made new friends and had new experiences.  There was nothing wrong with that, but it did make us drift further apart.  Elise found out, as many other college students do, that she was starting to get a taste for alcohol.  Being given that amount of freedom she now had, Elise began to get drunk – both off booze and freedom.  During our junior year of college, Elise and I made plans for me to come up and visit during my fall break – three months after I turned 21.

This was exciting to me because I felt like we could finally pick up where we left off.  As I said earlier, Knoxville is a long way from Spartanburg and we never saw each other except for Christmas.  But when I got up there, I was unpleasantly surprised to find out that Elise had elected me to purchase alcohol for her and her friends who were all underage.  Although I had carved out Thursday-Monday of that week to go up and see her, this revelation of my true purpose hurt me so much that all I could think about was going home.  I cut the trip early, leaving the next day.  My impromptu exit caused tension so thick we were choking on it.

After I left and got home, things weren’t the same.  For a long time, we didn’t talk to each other.  Elise would tell me about how she wanted me to meet her friends and have fun but that I had ruined that chance and I would retort by telling her how I didn’t appreciate being used.  It was ugly.

Thankfully, about six months later after both of us had had time to cool off and realize we really needed one another, our friendship finally got back on track while were still in school.  Even if only through Facebook and IM, Elise and I slowly began to build our relationship back up.  We would consistently write on each other’s walls and tell each other we missed the other.

catymissyou elisemissyou

Elise finally started coming back down to SC to visit.  She came down, just as I would go up a year later in return, for my college graduation.

She served as maid of honor in my wedding, and was a complete champ through everything that went haywire that day.

Over time, we could finally start calling ourselves friends again.  We finally started to keep in touch again, keeping current of things like changing majors and new boyfriends.  It was a relieving, albeit long transition.

All of this brings us to the present: our parents are currently in the process of divorcing.  Having not been blood-related to begin with and now with our changing lifestyles over the last 4 years, this divorce was sure to severe our bond for good.  What other connection did we have than the one that began with wedding bells?  So, I decided to write Elise a letter.  The letter made its way to TN in June of this year.

I told Elise a lot of things in the letter.  I told her that I didn’t want to end our friendship just because our parents were divorcing but that if she wanted to I understood.  I apologized for being so mean as a kid.  I admitted that her new life had hurt me so long ago and that I was sometimes secretly envious of many aspects of her life.  I told her lots of other things that I felt needed to be mentioned in a potential “it’s been a good run but let’s slice things cleanly” type of letter.

Not too long after, I received a reply.

I half-expected her letter to say something along the lines of how she never liked me to begin with so good riddance.  I had prepared myself for this type of response, because not only do I always prepare for the worst but I also wanted to have realistic expectations and not be too hurt or disappointed.  I have never been so pleasantly surprised as I was with the letter from Elise.

She too wrote several pages to say that she wanted to remain friends/sisters, that childhood was in the past and let’s leave it there, and that we should get together soon.  The letter was full of sweet things and hopeful conversation.  This pen and paper exchange was most certainly the spark that reignited our fire.

The following month, I sent Elise a shirt for her birthday and found this picture of her wearing it on Instagram:

elise

I can’t believe how far we’ve come.  All we’ve been through.  All we have yet to go through.  It’s amazing.

After much deliberation about what we would do for our long weekend, we decided to have a three-day-long slumber party!  We’re going to hang out in our pajamas, watch girly movies, and eat junk for three whole days.  And I am incredibly excited about this.  About this trip, about seeing her for the first time in forever, and about having a re-do from the last time we tried this as students.

And so, here we are.  I am heading up to TN one week from today to visit my sister.  As adults.  As friends.  As sisters.

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