My family of six, including my dog Stella, are a tight-knit clan that bonds over sports, food, and love for one another. I have two brothers, one is older than me, and the other is younger than me. We drove from event to event ever since I was little and I would never change that for a second. Andre, my older brother, and I are only twenty-one months apart, but most people see us as twins. We both are highly competitive and athletically gifted, but vertically challenged, considering we are both one of the smallest on our sports teams. I can not imagine anyone else sitting next to me during dinner, watching the latest sports game on television, or asking last minute honest advice on attire. As both Andre and I approach the end of our high school years, the transition into college and out of our everyday environment comes closer and closer. A quote on the wall in my house states, “Family like branches on a tree, we all grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one.” I never understood this quote until the spring of 2017.
It was a regular school night in early April during my Junior year. I was completing my homework for class the next day while my parents and my older brother discussed his college plans for freshman year just as they had for the past ten months. Application after application was filed, and finally, the choices were narrowed down to two: Georgia Tech or Louisiana State University. Louisiana State University is both of my parent’s alma mater. My parents have attended Saturday LSU football games for the past 40 years. I still have a picture of me as a four-year-old in an LSU cheerleading outfit and six-year-old Andre in an LSU football uniform.
After dinner one spring night, my brother nodded as he said the magic words slowly and carefully, “I think I am going to end up at Georgia Tech.” For about a minute all four of us, Mom, Dad, Andre, and I, sat in quiet breathtaking silence. Andre studying at Georgia Tech means there will be no weekend trips to visit him, no LSU football tailgates, no family Mardi Gras, and few holidays with him in New Orleans. The silence finally breaks as Andre explains that attending Georgia Tech is an opportunity he does not want to pass up and regret later. Georgia Tech is one of the top 5 schools in the nation for the major Andre is interested in studying.
My father’s eyes are filled with pride and a smile appears on his face. But as I watch my mother’s reaction to the news, tears filled her eyes. My mother was relieved that Andre decided on a college, but filled with grief that his departure from childhood would be even further than she expected. Her first child, her oldest son, was moving seven hours away to start a new chapter in his life. He is growing up and becoming a man before her eyes.
As I heard Andre’s words, my heart dropped. The idea of my best friend living so far away and not coming home everyday breaks my heart. Who will I share inside jokes with? Who will be my everyday role model to look up to? Who will be my new best friend? No one can replace Andre, so I should not try to replace him. I am fortunate enough to live in a time period where we can text, call, and facetime each other all day every day. Next year will be tough without Andre, but with the sisterhood of Mount Carmel and the support from my closest friends and family I hope to make senior year the best year of my life.
Andre is the first to leave the nest, but will not be the last. Next year, I will be contemplating the same questions and deciding my future plans just as Andre did this year. Andre leaving for college is the first step toward adulthood and another step further from the innocence of childhood. His confidence to attend a college without a support group and far away from the comfort of home has given me confidence to realistically look outside the easy stereotypical LSU college route and explore colleges that will be the right fit for me.
In the end, I have come to realize that Andre will forever be my brother. In the fall of 2017, Andre will become a “ramblin wreck from Georgia tech and a hell of an engineer”, but no matter how far away we are apart, we always have each other’s back until the end.