We Go Together This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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As we pull up to one of the ivy-covered brick buildings, I spot a figure waving from a first-story window. By the time my mother turns off the engine, I'm already standing on the steps of the university , ferociously hugging my sister. My mouth launches into hyper-speed as I attempt to brief Alicia on the last two months of my life. "You'll never believe what happened at school on Tuesday …"

Alicia's dorm room has a distinct smell. The aroma of detergent and fabric softener floats up from the laundry room below and mixes with her perfume, creating an intimate, snug atmosphere. At 10 p.m., we sit on the floor with an empty pizza box and "The Breakfast Club" playing on the television. I tell a joke only Alicia would think funny and our laughter fills the tiny room. As I'm about to recommend Judd Nelson for a "make-over," Alicia blurts out, "Judd Nelson would be so much cuter in khakis and a haircut."

"Quit having my thoughts," I say for the third time that night.

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Two hours later I lay blissfully in my sleeping bag, gazing at the glowing solar system on the ceiling. I had wondered if two months apart would change our relationship. That night three years ago, I realized that separation did not weaken our kinship, and I still appreciate the unwavering intensity of our bond.

Forrest Gump might say we are "like peas and carrots." Just as peas and carrots are connected by their vegetable family, so my sister and I are united by common upbringing. The compatibility of peas and carrots stems from their complementary tastes, not from their classification as vegetables. After spending that evening with her, away from our family, I recognized that our relationship's strength does not rely entirely on our blood connection.

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I glance around my sister's dorm room, past her tiny refrigerator to the metallic door beads marking the closet, her twelve-cup coffee pot, her neatly made bed and her desk in the corner. I admire Alicia's autonomy. Since birth, my sister has been in charge of her life. Like a carrot, she grows independently; I develop within my cozy, little pod, depending on my fellow peas.

The next evening, Alicia takes me to meet her friends. The music blares and the air vibrates with energy and excitement. Knots form in my stomach as I see dozens of students talking in large circles and dancing to Bob Marley. Alicia sticks by my side, introducing me around. Everyone has a different opinion of us, alternating between "You two look and act exactly alike" and "Are you sure you're sisters?" A few people remark on our similarity, while pointing out that our kinship is obvious when we are together but harder to see when we are apart. Our different "tastes" only serve to enhance the delicious quality of our combination.

As I watch Alicia visit with her pals, she takes on an orangish hue. Carrots develop underground, hidden from view. These shy vegetables are, at first, crisp and hard. If one takes the time to cook them, however, carrots warm up and become softer. I conclude that while my sister is hard to get to know, I hide very little about myself. I sit and talk with strangers as if I've known them for years. An image of a pea flashes into my mind and I see myself with a faint outer covering that breaks easily, revealing a sweet and soft interior. My unrestrained expression of thoughts and emotions mirrors the growth of peas, which occurs above ground where these bold vegetables are easily observed. Although Alicia and I have very different manners, in a warm environment our textures are almost identical.

Alicia and I roll out of bed the same time Sunday morning. At 10 a.m., we are standing on the stone steps. Once again we hug. Alicia pulls away, smiling. "I love you," she says. As my mother and I drive home, I remember my sister's farewell. I realize that while we have always been close, my sister and I never said "I love you" until Alicia lived 300 miles away. Somehow, those three words are more significant knowing we only started using them when we truly understood their meaning.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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