Sister, sister

After 19 years, 'love' finally includes 'like'

Two weeks. That’s all there is left of my first year here in Wahoo-land. With this time left, you’d think I’d devote this last column to our beautiful University, but I’d like to move 270 miles south instead, to the heart of East Carolina University. Somewhere on that campus sits a 22-year-old whose collegiate experience is nearing to a close.

That woman’s name is Emily, and she is running out of time until the world opens its magnificent front doors to her. For that, I dedicate this column to my sister.

I can safely say I never thought I’d encourage any media outlet to devote eight inches of its hallowed content to Emily Holshouser, so as to preserve their own readership. Even now, I hesitate to do so — I worry this paper might burst into flames as you read her name. That’s just the kind of person Emily is. She jumps right off the page, leaving naught but soot and ash behind her, just as she bursts forth from life, leaving the rest of us in a cloud of disbelief and fascination as she goes.

I can’t pretend I have always been a huge fan of my sister. Don’t get me wrong, I have always, always loved my sister. But for the first 17 years of my life, I didn’t like her.

Mine was a sister who delighted in telling me that the ocean’s undertow was a giant amphibious creature that sucked little girls down to the fathoms below. Fast forward five years and she was chasing me around the house with a colander on her head, a sauce lid in one hand and a butcher knife in the other as I ran genuinely terrorized from room to room.

If ever I should be mugged, I truly believe I could successfully evade my attacker, if only because I have a plethora of experience in defending myself. My sister was always much stronger than me, both because of her age and my small stature. I could never get in a good punch, but I learned the merit of speed.

Then again, she did burn me copies of her Bowling for Soup and Good Charlotte CDs. And she drove me to see Coldplay my freshman year of high school. And she pretended not to notice when I stole her Maybelline foundation when I was seven.

And the first day I had to wear my back-brace to school in the third grade, Emily gave me the confidence to ignore the naively hurtful remarks of the boys in class. I’m sure she has no recollection of this, but I will never forget the gist of what she told me that morning: “Laura, four-leaf clovers are different, aren’t they? They don’t fit in with the rest of the clovers, but that doesn’t make them bad. It makes them special. If any of those boys say anything mean, just ignore them. You’re a four-leaf clover now, and you shouldn’t feel the need to hide that.”

Let us acknowledge how, at age 12, Emily was already some kind of intellectual guru. She was the Gandalf to my Bilbo, pushing me out of my comfy little hobbit hole into the tempestuous, yet brilliant world.

I would be inclined to say her imminent graduation will push her from her own hobbit hole, but anyone who knows her will readily admit Emily voluntarily ran from said hole many years ago. Emily doesn’t need a shove to step outside her comfort zone; Emily takes her comfort zone, in addition to the comfort zones of those around her, and smashes it to oblivion.

Emily is smart and creative, moody and impulsive, passionate and brave. She is a pirate. She is a gypsy. She is about to be a college graduate. She is a four-leaf clover. I am proud of her for all these reasons, but prouder still to call her my sister.

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