Little Lamb Leaves the Farm

Last week, my younger sister Jane left the United States to teach abroad in Prague for a year. Yes, our little lamb left the farm. For years, she had been talking about moving to a different country after she graduated college, but none of us actually thought she would do it. We just figured it was something she’d talk about but never follow through on, like how my mom talks about putting our family photos into photo albums, but we all know that will never happen. Of course we listened to Jane when she told us of her plan to move to Europe after graduation but in our heads we were all thinking, “Oh there goes the family nut job Jane rambling on about her ‘magical’ adventures again.” We all laughed because we all know there is no magic after you graduate college. Silly young and naive Jane! But when she booked her flight and paid the program deposit back in May, it was a reality check for all of us that this little lamb was serious.

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Me and Jane back in the day when she was content living in America. Mom: “Here Kathleen, hold your baby sister Jane and I’ll take your picture!” **Thinks it will be a perfect Kodak moment” Me: K. **Does not touch baby but just let’s her lean against me uncomfortably** 

We all reacted differently when Jane shared the news that she was officially going abroad. My mom was sad and told her she was not allowed to meet her future husband there, that she MUST move back to the States after a year. My dad immediately began to worry and asked if she had ever seen the movie Taken. He was not too keen on the idea that his youngest child was going to be so far away for so long. “Remember that little lamb, ‘Miss Kelly’ we saw in Dayton?!” My dad said, “That’s how I picture you in a foreign country! You’ll just be prey for all sorts of vultures! You’re too trusting of people!” It would be an understatement to say that he did not take this news very well. For my siblings and me, it was disbelief. “You’re actually leaving us?!!!!” I said, “I thought this whole ‘I’m going to move abroad’ thing was just one of your empty promises that you’d never actually follow through on! Like how you said you’d replace Bridget’s earrings that you lost a couple of years ago but you never actually did!” “HEY!” Jane responded, defensively, “I TOLD Bridget to pick out a pair and then I’d pay for them and she never did! Also, I’m offended that you thought I would never go through with my plan.” I just kept asking Jane the same question, quoting Gus Portokalos, the father in my favorite movie of all time, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, “Why you want to leave me?!” I just didn’t understand why she was leaving me and fleeing the country.

After the initial shock wore off, Jane then announced that she would be a “miser” this summer so she could save lots of money for her big move. This was also very hard for everyone to believe and we all had a good laugh. We had no idea how much misers liked to go out to the bars and eat out on the weekends. Jane did get a job nannying over the summer so she was making and saving some money. She was able to do this because I, being the saint that I am, let her borrow my car while I sacrificed and walked to work everyday. My work is less than a mile from where I live but don’t try and belittle my sacrifice. It was tougher than people give me credit for. Do you know how many lemonade stands I had to avoid on my walk home from work everyday? Summer in suburbia means lemonade stands are on every corner like Starbucks downtown. It’s easy to avoid eye contact with children yelling at you to buy lemonade when you are in the comfort of an automobile, but when you’re on foot it’s a lot harder! And do you know how many sprinklers I had to walk around in the early morning hours on my journey to work? Sidewalks are for walking, not sprinklers! Plus, with all the extra exercise I was getting, I began to worry that I would get too jacked and people would not recognize me at the end of the summer! “Is that Kathleen Kelly or Jillian Michaels? I can’t tell.” People would say. I better get into heaven after all I went through. I will keep everyone posted on my canonization process.

Since Jane was living at home again over the summer, her and I got to spend a lot of time together. We no longer shared a bedroom but we still saw each other in the hallway and other common areas of Ma and Pa Kelly’s old maid sanctuary. We also had similar work schedules so we were usually up in the mornings at the same time and we went to bed at the same time. We had some great conversations while brushing our teeth together in our upstairs bathroom. Our “Kids” bathroom vanity has double sinks so we would stand next to each other chatting while brushing away, washing our faces or flossing. One night, after I had JUST cleaned our bathroom hours before, I watched Jane as I brushed my teeth and she washed her face. After a few minutes I paused my electric toothbrush and finally said, “Um, excuse me, Jane? I just had a quick question that I’ve been meaning to ask you.” She stopped washing her face and looked at me, thinking I was going to ask her about something very serious. “Yea, what is it?” She said, a little concerned. “Have you ever been to Splash Mountain in Disney World?” I asked. Her concern then turned to confusion. “No, why?” she said. “Oh, ok” I said, “I was just wondering. I wasn’t sure if you were maybe trying to relive your experience on that ride the way you are splashing away over there as if you’re Hayden Panettiere washing your face on a Neutrogena commercial, getting water all over the counter tops that I JUST cleaned.” She just laughed and rolled her eyes. “Aren’t you a little smart ass?” She said. She will definitely miss my sarcastic remarks while she is in Prague.
Another time while we were both brushing our teeth Jane was trying to talk to me about how she calculated the amount of time on average people spend on morning and night time routines. She was explaining how she came to her final number but honestly I could not hear her and I really did not care. I’m hard of hearing and I had just replaced the battery in my electric toothbrush so it was louder and more powerful than ever! I finally stopped my toothbrush and cut her off. “Jane, I’m sorry but you’re going to have to stop talking. I just came here to brush my teeth and go to bed, not to solve a math problem on the ACT.” It’s like we get it Jane, you graduated college with honors.

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Nothing makes you feel more like an adult than brushing your teeth everyday in a bathroom papered with hippos.

As the summer rolled on and Jane’s departure date got closer, my parents became more and more sad. It was crunch time for them to get everything in before Jane left. They threw her a going away party, we took our Christmas card picture and then we had NUMEROUS “Last Family” meals to the point where it was getting ridiculous. My Mom kept adding family dinners so everyone could say goodbye to Jane. It was starting to get awkward how many times we were all seeing each other. “Are we all going to have to meet again tomorrow for a ‘Family Snack’ between lunch and dinner as another goodbye meal to Jane?” I asked my mom sarcastically as we finished up our 800th family dinner. (She ignored my question and instead just called me a smart ass.) We even had a last family lunch at my parents’ favorite burger place in the neighborhood, Pappy’s. This lunch temporarily distracted Mike Sr. and Mo from their sadness about Jane’s departure upon their discovery that Pappy’s had switched from Coke to Pepsi products. Being die hard Diet Coke fans, my parents were LIVID that they could no longer drink Diet Coke with their lunch there. For the first time in many months we had a meal where the conversation did not center around Jane’s big move but rather how Diet Pepsi does not agree with my father’s stomach and how my mom thinks it tastes flat. Somehow they managed to drink the poison some people call Diet Pepsi, finish their meals, and make it home safely.

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We wore America hats at Jane’s going away party just as a subtle reminder to Jane that she was born in the USA.

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My very heartfelt and not passive aggressive at all sign I made for Jane’s party.

Before we knew it, it was time for Jane to leave us. My parents were sad but I reminded them that I will still be here and many people think I look just like Jane so there’s really no difference. Hours after she left, Duke moved his things into Jane’s room and took over her bed, but I’m sure he is sad that she is gone. (Don’t worry Jane, we told him about your “No eating Puperoni in bed” rule.) I was sad for Jane to leave me too. It was nice having another Millennial home with me to take care of the Baby Boomers and I will definitely miss our conversations while brushing our teeth. But I know that she will have the time of her life and I hope to visit her in the Spring. I’m sure the year she is gone will fly by and before we know it, our little lamb will be back on the farm.

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Wore my funeral dress to work and sent Jane this Snap Chat on the day she left. Unfortunately I could not find a black veil. 

 

 

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The Summer Roommate

About a month ago I made probably the best purchase of my life (aside from my selfie stick) and that was a window unit air conditioner for my bedroom. We have central air but my father has the same method of using utilities in his house as Scrooge from A Christmas Carol did. Whenever we would complain to him about how it was too hot in the house growing up he never had much sympathy.

Me and my siblings: Dad it’s so hot can we please turn the air on tonight?
Dad: Oh you kids these days are a bunch of sissies. If you go five seconds without air conditioning you act like you’re going to die. Back when I was growing up we didn’t have any air conditioning! AND we only had one fan for all 9 of us kids to share!
Me: Why didn’t you guys just buy more fans? Those box fans are like ten bucks at Target.
Dad: Because we were too poor!
Me: You know, I think I’m going to start taking violin lessons so I can follow you around playing my violin as you tell your sob story to everyone.

Because of this, I was worried my landlords would not approved my purchase request. Surprisingly, though, they approved it right away so I immediately went out and bought an AC unit before they changed their minds.

Once that window unit was in, my room was as cold as it is in the wintertime when my Dad refuses to turn the heat up. Ahh, it felt great. Unfortunately, though, since this is America, when you have nice things other people like to try and use those nice things of yours for free. Yes, sadly, this wonderful AC unit put me in a situation where I was dealing with a squatter. A squatter who happens to be my younger sister, Jane, home from college for the summer.

Although we always shared a room growing up, the plan was for Jane to move into my brother’s old room when she came home from school. With our three older siblings moved out and two now empty bedrooms, there really wasn’t a reason for us to share anymore. Until the AC unit came into play. Every once in a while Jane will say something like “Ok, this weekend I am going to start moving my stuff into Michael’s room.” or “Next week I am going to look for a comforter for my new bedroom.” All empty promises, of course. But at this point I’ve come to terms with the fact that she doesn’t really plan on moving out, and I am ok with that now.

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Me and my summer roomie back in the day. Mom, I know you’re reading so just want to reiterate the fact that I was way too old for you to be dressing me in the same outfits as my little sister. You only got away with this because I always looked younger than I was.

Jane never liked the idea of us separating rooms. She would get upset when the subject of moving rooms was even brought up because she is sentimental like that. I, on the other hand, have no feelings or emotions so I had no problem trying to kick her to the curb. I liked to joke with her that one of these days she is going to find all of her stuff boxed up in the hallway outside our bedroom and that I was going to change the bedroom lock. She didn’t think it was very funny.

Sharing a room again has made us closer, actually a little too close now that we’ve actually begun to act like an old married couple-we spend a lot of time together, sometimes bicker, and even plan out when we are going to bed.  Our before bed conversation usually goes something like this:

Me: Ok, I am going to bed.
Jane: Ok, when you say you’re going to bed does that mean you are like going to sleep right away or are you going to read for a little bit? Because if you’re reading I’ll go up and read too but if you aren’t I’ll just read downstairs.
Me: I am going to read a little bit but probably only a chapter or two.
Jane: Ok then I will go up and read too.
Me: Wait, but like how long do you plan to read? Because I don’t want to finish reading and then have to lay there trying to sleep while the bedside table lamp is still on.
Jane: Well can’t you just put your pillow over your face to block the light while I finish reading? That’s how you usually sleep anyway.
Me: Whoa, whoa whoa. What, are you watching me sleep now you creep? Well if I can do that why don’t you just read with a flashlight then? How about that?
Jane: Ok, fine I will just read a chapter or two, I’m pretty tired.
Me: Ok, either way it’s your turn to turn off the bedside light.

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Throwing it back to when we had to wake up and bury our dead goldfish. By the way, what kind of sick person takes pictures at a funeral, MOM. Side note: seconds after she took this picture the dead fish fell out of my had and landed on our dog’s face.

In all honesty, the only annoying thing about sharing a room with Jane is how fast she can fall asleep. Most nights it takes me forever to get to sleep but Jane passes out practically before her head hits the pillow, as if she has Benadryl pulsing through her veins. And once she is asleep she might as well be in a coma because there is no waking her up. Since I don’t think it’s fair that she falls asleep so quickly I usually try to keep her up by talking or acting like a goof. My favorite game to play is the “Does it look like I’m in my bed?” game where I flatten myself out as much as I can and situate my blankets so it looks like no one is in my bed. Gets her every time.

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This is me killing it at the “Does it look like I’m in my bed” game. Spoiler alert: I’m in there.

Once we are done with that we gaze up at the glow in the dark stars on our ceiling (it’s like camping really) that will forever be there (since they take pieces of drywall with them every time we try to take them down) and then Jane falls.

Luckily, we don’t work at the same place so we have about 8 hours of separation. But after work I like to make Jane come on errands with me even when she doesn’t want to.

Me: Jane want to go to Target with me?
Jane: Ah no not really thanks though.
Me: Oh my gosh you are literally so selfish. You know I don’t like doing things by myself. Typically youngest child.
Jane: I was just at Target an hour ago.
Me: Oh come on I want to go to get one of those giant soft frisbees. And we can jam out to music on our way there.
Jane: You go out and buy the weirdest stuff.
Me: You know the hard plastic frisbees hurt my hands. I can’t play with those. It’s not my fault my hands are softer than a baby’s bottom.
Jane: Ugh fine, I’ll go with you.

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Thanks Dad! We hardly feel any bumps when we are driving around in your car!

Sharing a room isn’t that bad when you’ve done it your entire life and it’s all you know. I will miss her when she leaves me to go back to school. I think the thing I’ll miss the most is this amazing hairbrush she brought home that I like to use when I get out of the shower. It’s a brush specifically made to use when your hair is wet. I can’t explain it but it makes my hair just feel so healthy. I really hope she considers leaving it for me. All joking aside I will be lonely when she leaves me and it’s just me and the baby boomers again. Although her big move to my brother’s bedroom was supposed to happen this summer, it looks like that will be postponed a while. Target move date: Summer 2030!