She is the first in our family to go away to a four year university; the first to consciously commit to “going away,” really. I moved to Seattle six months before Emma moved to Helena, but she knew she was moving away long before I could fathom the idea. It was her enthusiasm for her next adventure that gave me the courage to pursue mine. I’m much older than Em, part of a different generation, and have always seen her as a child more than a sibling. This trip would change my perspective. Emma turned 22 two weeks ago; she lives off-campus in a turn of the century home full of other young women; she has a job; she likes beer. She has political views that fuel debates, a Discover card she uses very cautiously to build credit, plans for graduate school, and an appreciation for lasting friendships. Emma at 22 really has her shit together, while at 35, I’m still frantically trying to rake mine into a tidy little pile.
We soaked up the Montana sunshine at a football game, attended a play of Edgar Allan Poe stories, and painted ceramics. Mostly, though, we just hung out. We cried over eggs and toast at Firetower Coffee as I shared my business journal with her (who knew a business plan could be so emotional?) and exchanged our dreams for our futures. We laughed when I took my vegetarian sister to The Fancy Natural Grocery Store (read: too expensive for a college student) and she discovered really affordable bulk soup mixes and spices like smoked paprika that would put an end to her “4 Years of Bean Burritos” saga. Our relationship quickly shifted from a parent/child dynamic to the mutually respectful adult-siblings standard. We ate brussels sprouts – and liked them!
Emma’s house is a testament to the bond of women. Young and beautiful with the world in their palms, yet just under the surface they are all dealing with some heavy, complicated, deeply personal baggage as they prepare to transition into adulthood. We, too, have transcended toward the bonds of femininity, friendship, sisterhood. We are as different as we are similar, but even in our differences we find common ground. RatLady or CatLady, we both love critters and in that shared passion we can laugh and support each other no matter what the future holds.