My little, little sister is on the road to college in Wisconsin, today. So strange. I left home when she was only 5 to go to college myself, and in many ways she is--in my mind--exactly the same little girl today. It's sort of how we remember high school or college friends, or anything in life, I suppose--one image, sound, or sensation frozen instantaneously in our minds, stuck on rewind forever.
When she was learning to talk I taught her to say "I cry, I sad, gimme money" in hopes of putting her to work on local city street corners. This was, literally, one of the first things she ever learned to say, and I was dutiful in teaching her. It was the cutest thing you ever did see.
She learned to climb the stairs very quick, always searching out her older brother and sister. She mastered every device to open cabinets and doors, including electricity (ha?). When I was in college she sent me a photo of the basement toilet at home, my favorite one, in a ziplock baggie, which I hung on my dorm wall. She has always been a smarty pants (not in the good sense, but I will allow this as being charming, for now), and has always, always known the right answer AND what you'll say even before you say it. Amazing, uncanny ability. Several years back my dad took off her bedroom door--my old room--because she refused to leave it open; I think it was off for many weeks.
She's a very decent soccer goalie and softball catcher, a talented photographer, and a true people person very much unlike the rest of the family, I think. I miss my college days with a pang akin to intense hunger, but I am accustomed to dining on ashes (I am a brooding poet). I know she will embrace and enjoy college from day one and won't let up, making the good mistakes we all need to make, and should make, to lead complete and deep lives. I know she will be an amazing person on the flip side. I know mom and dad won't know what to do with themselves in an empty house after, as my dad reminded me, 32 years and exactly one month of kids at home.
Somehow, in all of this change the last year--marriage, moving, grandmother's car accident and developing alzheimers, sister going to college, other sister moving to San Francisco--the monarch and swallowtail larva in the garden are the most appropriate, wonderful gift; they remind me of the elegant beauty and purpose of change, of becoming, of beginnings and ends, perfect designs curled under leaves ready and waiting to be fully born again, again, again.
Erich Fromm: “The whole life of the individual is nothing but the process of giving birth to himself; indeed, we should be fully born when we die.”