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A Love Letter to My Cross Country Sister

Just a disclaimer: I have two sisters: one lives five minutes from our childhood home, and the other, Alex, about 20 hours give or take. This is a love letter to my strong, dedicated, loving, steadfast, overthinker of a sister, Alex. 

My sisters and I at my high school graduation in May.

My sister was not my most favorite person growing up. To be fair, she was seven years older than me, so sometimes she acted like my mom instead of my sister. We fought like cats and dogs, only it was more violent. I’m talking yanking fistfuls of hair, throwing hot soup, kicking and punching, all of that. All of it coming from me, I should probably add. When she graduated high school and moved into college, I was going into the sixth grade. I thought her moving 2.5 hours away would help our relationship, but we only grew apart. I mean, she was home at least once a month and that was enough for the both of us. She transferred schools her senior year (ballsy right?) and was only an hour or so away. If you’re familiar with NE-OH, she went to Baldwin Wallace, and I’m from the Youngstown area, so basically a short drive on good old I-80 and there she was. 

When she started applying to grad schools, she wanted to move as far away from home as she could. My parents and I didn’t mind because at this point in her life, she was a handful. She got accepted at Denver University and made plans to move there in August of 2017. To make it short, I was angry. I had leadership positions in both tennis and band and our parents expected me to just not go the first week to take a cross country road trip? Oh heck no. So, we compromised, and our dog and I stayed with our aunt. That week was pretty rough, I can’t lie. I missed my parents and I didn’t get the full experience of saying bye to my sister.

Alex and I at her high school graduation circa 2012.

Flashforward two years: I’m sitting in my dorm, while Alex and her dog are sipping wine and talking about vaginas and penises for a living. We live roughly 1,500 miles apart, but we are closer than we have ever been. We text almost daily and FaceTime when we’re both available, which is almost never considering we’re both students and there’s a time difference of two hours between us. Alex has become my best friend. To watch her grow and develop into a strong woman has been my favorite part of this experience, I’m sure she would say the same about me. She experienced so many difficulties in her undergrad experience that gave her a skewed view of the world and to watch her untangle that view has been incredible. She inspires me to never give up, to always persevere, to chase after what I want. When all hope was lost for her, she fought on. For heaven’s sake, she moved across the country and is thriving!

Her being away helped me to develop a stronger sense of who I was. When Alex was in college and still living at home for the majority of the year, I tried to mimic her behavior. I believed the same things she did, tried to have an “emo” phase like her (although, my 2014 emo-self could not compare with her 2009-current emo-self) and even followed the same path she did by taking College Credit Plus classes. I worshiped her even if it didn’t seem like it to her. After she moved to Denver, I started to look at myself and develop my own self. She wasn’t able to influence me when she was home on breaks because she didn’t live in our house anymore. As I reflect on the last two years of my high school experience, I can positively say that I would not be who I am now had Alex not moved. I found myself in her absence, and she found herself in the Rockies.

Alex, I love you, and I am so excited to come visit you when you graduate this summer. You are someone I can aspire to be like, and I hope you see that. 

Emma Kelly

Kent State '23

Emma is a first-year student at Kent State University where she studies Public Relations and Political Science. She is involved with Kent's Her Campus, her hall council, and the Lambda Delta chapter of Chi Omega. She was previously a Lt. Governor of the Ohio District of Key Club International as well as the Public Relations Chair for the board. She also served as an editor of her high school's newspaper, The Quaker.
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