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It Is What It Is
“Dear Ms. Wentworth,
I’m sure that you will have by now heard the rumors that the grand Calypso café is closing. I will do nothing to dispel these rumors or identify them as false- they are completely true. Regretfully, I must inform you that the venue which was the go-to destination for a cup of coffee and a sandwich (particularly basil chicken and Gouda, or smoked fish with herb-garlic dressing) has gone under due to debt and lacking customer contribution.
Good Lord, that sounded formal, didn’t it?
Hey Rikki, how are you? I miss you, even though I know you don’t miss me. It’s been very lonely around the apartment lately without you running pell-mell and traipsing through the doorways at all hours, your eyes bright with the excitement of crafting the perfect thesis or finding a new piece of research that developed your theories even more. Very odd not having clothes and papers and books draped over every surface, very odd not finding toxic chemicals mixed in with my cooking spices. The house is quiet now, surprisingly, without you laughing and screaming and me yelling at you to “Shut up so I can study!”
So I guess it’s you that I can blame for why I left college, your noise why I couldn’t pass enough exams to stay. If that’s true, then it’s your fault that the Calypso even existed, a dream based off of the need for cash with school behind me and nothing but debt in front. I can blame you for success and an excellent business, one that you always adored. I can blame you for the memory of you at a table by the window, with a pesto-Portobello sandwich and enormous espresso, a chemistry book (that may have been for school but was probably just a bit of light reading for you) in your hand. I can blame you for the business that is now slipping out of my hands faster than I can say, with laid-off employees and scraps of customers and bills and bills and bills.
I can blame you, that is, if I’m too much of a coward to blame myself.
And I do, Erica, oh God I do. This is all my fault, not yours, and I know it. You know it, and that’s why you left in a whirlwind of tears and anger and never came back, why, after four years, you still haven’t walked back through my front door. And there’s no reason why you should. There’s no reason why I should expect you to be back.
But I don’t know, kiddo. I guess I just need to state that I’m sorry, even if it’s more for my own sake than yours, if it’s more the fact that I need to know myself the depth of my feelings. So I’m going to apologize for every stupid-as-hell thing that I did to you. And I’m going to pray (to what deity, I don’t have the faintest idea.) that you will forgive me.
I’m sorry for believing that since I was twenty-one I could take care of my fifteen-year-old sister, that I could be the substitute for two parents who were loving and caring and knew what they were doing about a thousand times better than I did, who were taken from their children far too soon.
I wish that they were still here too, Rikki. I know what it felt like for you to lose them, because it’s exactly what I felt. No one knows your pain more than me.
I’m sorry for not being there for you like a guardian should, for missing every game and concert and not knowing anything about your life. I’m sorry for screaming at you every time that you blew up the cure for cancer or AIDS or baldness in your room. You were right: rugs don’t belong in labs, and it’s my own fault that your very expensive carpeting exploded into flame. Paint did cover up those wall scorch marks surprisingly well, after all.
More than for my yelling, I want to apologize for the fact that my baby sister’s dreams are bigger than mine will ever be and while you will one day become the next Marie Curie or Albert Einstein or Louis Pasteur, I’m just a college dropout with a minor aptitude for cooking and a failed restaurant. But even more than for being a murky storm cloud hovering over your life, even more than missing that life entirely, I’m sorry for being a terrible guardian and an even worse brother and friend.
I’m sorry, in the end, for my failures.
I fully understand if you never want to speak to me again- it’s more than I deserve if you’re eternally silent. But if I’m not staying here after we close, and you’re far, far away now, do you honestly think we’ll ever see each other again? I don’t want to be the brother who isn’t heard from until after he dies, and I don’t want you to be the sister who I lose for good.
There’s no denying it: this sucks. But we started in on this together, and maybe, just maybe, this whole matter will suck a little less if that’s how we finish it: together. I’m not begging you to come, I’m not down on my hands and knees, I’m not saying that you absolutely have to be here. But I sure would like it if you could come down for one last mug of coffee, a chemistry study session and a long talk with your big brother before we officially close our doors on September fourth.
It would be best if you could contact me first to let me know if you’re coming, but I’m at the restaurant almost the entire day, every day at this point, getting things in order. Our hours are seven to nine (you’ll remember the address) and I’m usually here from six to ten. If the hours don’t work for you or I’m not here, then come to the old apartment- I haven’t moved. Landline’s the same, but try to contact me on my cell (976-408-9356) since like I said, I’m not home much.
It’s time for me to go now, Erica- back to stacks of paperwork to file for the bank, the town, the employees. Back to looking over accounts to make sure we didn’t miss any money the first seven times we checked, back to calling the moving vans and arranging for our furniture to get picked up.
You’re mature enough to make your own calls; you don’t have to listen to what I say. And I don’t deserve a visit from you any more than you deserve a brother like me.
I would like to see you, though.
And whatever you do, come or not, I love you.