I must have caught the bug when I was out with my sisters, our last night in Nashville.
I could feel the symptoms creeping: Slightly during that three-hour drive back to Lexington the next day. Then the next day a bit more while undertaking the eight-hour mission it took to fly back home to southern California (oh, delays).
And I didn’t even take too much notice to the fact that I my ears had failed to fully pop during my flight, rendering my left ear completely deaf a couple hours in.
Because louder than this ringing in my ears (left one, still deaf) and the miserable congestion I am now feeling is the fact that my baby sister officially, and indefinitely, resides in a different time zone.
When I left to go to Malta for a year for my master’s program, she told me she couldn’t believe I could do it — that I had the balls to be all alone, for so long, and so far from home. It didn’t really hit me until that first day alone in my new apartment. But before the loneliness and missing’s could strike, I was off to class, or off on a plane for a weekend trip to Italy. And it flew by. And before I knew it, I was back home in LA.
But this is different. Her big girl life has taken her to Kentucky. There’s not an ending date to her program, or a return flight home. But as sad as I am that she’s left me, I am so proud of her.
While I visited her in Lexington, we got to take mini-weekend trips out to nearby states. One particular weekend, just she and I drove out to Ohio.
Ever since we were little, we have talked often about the places we want to live. After watching Parent Trap I was convinced it was London. In high school, I swore I was going to go to college in New York. Years later, I knew I was going to live in San Francisco at some point. Then it changed to Chicago. Then after my master’s program, it changed to Milan. And then not long after that, I decided I wanted to do it all. Not just visit, but live it all.
After walking through downtown Cincinnati, we continued past the baseball stadium and found a place to sit for awhile at the riverfront. We sat in silence for a bit, just taking it all in: The sun was setting, the city lights were coming alive, reflecting beautifully over the Ohio River, and the fireflies buzzed around us.
“You know you’re never going to live in all the places you want to unless you start right now, right?”
I was a little bit caught off guard. My initial response happened to be a ton of reasons why “It just won’t work out, not right now.” And that was it. Conversation closed, rather rudely and abruptly.
But as we walked on, I realized how right she was.
Who is this girl? The one who told me she could never do what I did, and go Europe for a year, who is now the one taking an amazing opportunity across the country, and challenging me to act now on my own dreams. Sometimes I forget who is supposed to be the older one.
I have a very tight relationship with my parents, and obviously with my sisters, and I think the thought of leaving them permanently, and especially on my own, really scares me. I worry about my parents because I know how much they will worry about me. And even when I have been away from them, I’ve always at least had my sisters.
But then I think of Malta and how it was the greatest experience of my life. I was 7,000 miles away from my parents. I didn’t have my sisters there with me. I was fine, my family was fine. In fact after that, they learned to worry less about me. Now my sister was leaving to have her own greatest experience. I will be fine, we will all be fine. And if I choose to go somewhere and do something else, we will still be fine.
Sometimes, life can bring you as low as it has brought you high. It is filled with uncertainty. And it doesn’t always make much sense. But one thing is for sure: Life is too short to be dictated by worry.