Today my little sister left for college. University of Michigan, more than a few minutes away. I watched her yesterday, packing her bags, staring blankly at nothing, saying goodbye to friends. I scratched my head. How could it be that my little sister is moving away from home? How is that she is suddenly grown-up? On her way to college? Beginning her life as an independent? How is that she has grown into an amazing, talented woman and where was I all the while?
When I left home Rachel was only eleven years old. She was a little girl, awkward and bumbling. I didn't relate to her of course, my brother and I were closer in age and Rachel was always the baby. Little Roo. David and I had our places in the household. I was the crazy one, the "artist" while David was more practical. He was the "smart one," the "math whiz" and Rachel was, well, Rachel.
It wasn't until a few years back that she picked up the flute and everything changed. There are some people who are meant to do certain things. Rachel came alive when she began playing flute and it wasn't long that her playing became more than extra-curricular. It was her. The music. The music. The music. Her face changed, her body language, she grew tall and slender and beautiful and all the while, she played. Hours a day and on weekends. When she wasn't playing the flute she was studying, attending concerts, surrounding herself with the same joy that lit her from within.
It was an amazing thing to see, especially for me, who could relate. Same passion for words that she had for music. Same lust for Debussy and Mozart and Rachmaninoff that I had for Miller, Sartre and Anais Nin. In all my life I have never met anyone so passionate about her craft as my sister. For her there is nothing more important than music and it shows when she plays.
Thus far her music has taken her to Russia, to Sweden, Finland, Italy (St. Paul's Cathedral) and New York, San Francisco and beyond. She was first flute with the San Diego Youth Orchestra and today she arrived at the University of Michigan, one of the finest music schools in the world, all on her own. She will major in Flute performance (Surprise! Ha!) and I am so proud of her.
As a farewell, my sister played a private concert for over 100 people last week. Family, friends, students of hers (she taught flute lessons her senior year of HS). A pianist accompanied her and she played for an hour. It was exquisite. I couldn't take my eyes off of her. Curls swept off her face. Long green dress, she was like a reed and the music seemed to be coming from everywhere, from her eyes and the way she moved, from her fingers and twisted neck.
I forgot for a moment she was my sister. I was in awe.
It's going to be very strange going home and not having her there. It's going to be different, like when my brother left. Seeing him only on holidays and a rare visit in the summertime. It's a wild day when one's family has scattered all over the country. World, even. And that's just for me, her sister. I cannot imagine what my parents must feel, my mother who's life for the past twenty-five years has been her kids. It's going to okay, mom.
It's kind of going to suck not to be able to raid her closet for her Citizen jeans or that Marc Jacobs sweater with the orange striped neck. It's going to be hard to walk past her empty bedroom.
For her, these years, I know, will be the very best for her. She is finally in her element, with people she can relate to. People who will love and appreciate her just as he is and I cannot wait to be witness to it all. (from afar, perhaps but there's always myspace, youtube? aim?)
I cannot wait to see her excel in college. I cannot wait to fly to Michigan for her concerts, to point at Rachel with pride. See that girl right there? First flute chair? That's MY little sister. And she isn't little anymore. She's big. She's a woman, grown up, following her bliss. Nah, LEADING is more like it. Leading her dreams and her whole life, feet planted firmly in the orchestra pit, stunning views of her sun-kissed horizon.
I love you, Rachel. Good luck to you, Roo-Poo. Happy trails!