Sisters are funny things. When Meredith and I were kids, the six years that separated us seemed like an ocean of time. The gap in our ages was only further exacerbated by our difference in size - when I was 12 and standing at about the same height I do now (5'5 and 3/4, thank you very much), she was a chubby six year old who barely made it to my elbow. I adored her then, the way I adored all my younger siblings - so long as they weren't trying to follow me around when I was hanging out with my friends, or borrowing my stuff without asking.
It's hard to say when exactly our relationship changed. When I left for college Meredith was only 12 years old, and as far as I can remember we still maintained the sisterly affection we'd always had towards one another, but nothing more. It wasn't until about halfway through my tenure at UVA that I began to see her in a new light. At around 14 or so Meredith started to grow - a lot - and by my third year in school she was actually taller than me. Living away from home and seeing my family only every few months, it seemed to me as if my sister had blossomed overnight into this beautiful swan (not that she was ever an ugly duckling to begin with). As she entered high school and began experiencing all the trials and tribulations of being 16, we started to keep in touch more and more. She would fill me in on things going on at home, what her classes were like, who her friends were (and were not), which boys were funny and which just thought they were funny but were actually stupid. And I in turn confided in her - telling her what college was like, how much fun I was having at times and also how lonely I felt at others, how I was switching into the engineering school and how hard the work was, how my friendship with a boy at school was starting to become something more intimate. Sometimes I felt like maybe she wouldn't get it - as if she was too young to know what I was talking about or to empathize with what I was going through - but amazingly that was never the case. Perhaps it is her maturity or her amazing listening skills, or perhaps it is that we are sisters and when you've grown up knowing someone your entire life you understand them better than anyone else. Whatever the case, by the time I graduated Meredith had become one of my very best friends.
That summer I went to London to intern for a month at a PE firm, and at the end of my tour my sister came to meet me. We spent the next 10 days in - you guessed it - Paris, exploring our favorite city and speaking franglish to each other while trying to impress the locals with our knowledge of the language and culture. It was a most amazing vacation, one that confirmed not only our love for all things french but also our relationship as friends, allies, and confidantes.
It has been two years since that trip and in this time we have grown in age and experience. I started my first job in the "real world" while Meredith finished out her wildly successful career at Dana Hall, our alma mater. She applied and was accepted to the best university in the country (yep, I'm biased), and will be enrolling there next fall alongside our brother, who will be a third year (am I insanely jealous that they get two years in college together? You betcha). Funny the way it is, only now that I have the perspective to reflect on our 18+ years together can I really understand what makes our relationship so special. Though Meredith and I will always have six years between the dates on our drivers licenses (I can't tell you how secretly happy it makes me when people mistake us for one another or even think we are twins), there is no space between our hearts. In all our time as sisters we have never been in the same place in life - she in kindergarten while I was gearing up for middle school, me in college while she was barely a freshman; but that is what has made us so compatible. We have enough years between us that there has never been any reason to compete; which can be a common source of hostility as sisters who might be closer in age than we are will attest. Instead there has been every reason to listen and support one another in whatever stage of life we have found ourselves, and that has made all the difference.
In conclusion, I dedicate this post to my beautiful sister Meredith. Congratulations on your graduation from high school and on every accomplishment for which you worked so hard. I cannot wait to watch as you continue to grow in the next chapter of your life, though I will miss you more than you could ever know when you fly south this August. Remember what the little prince said?
On ne voit bien qu'avec la coeur, l'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.
Tu es essentielle pour moi, parce-que tu es ma sœur, et par conséquent la moitié de moi. Et quand tu vas à l'école, tu me manques. Mais jusque-là, nous aurons à Paris. Et après cela, nous aurons toujours les uns des autres. Je t'aime mon petit chou.