Every once in a while, while I listened to her down the hall, I would hear her coming towards me. When she got near my door, she’d step more and more softly. Slowly she’d crack my door, pushing it silently open. Then she would pad quietly over to my bed, while I pretended to sleep. She’d lean down, trying not to breath, and tear my covers off.
I’d follow her drowsily into her room. She would turn the Eagle’s up on her stereo and hand me a hairbrush. We’d jump around the room, screaming into the brushes.
“Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses? You’ve been out riding fences for so long now…”
We’d fall laughing to her bed, and lie there breathless. Sometimes we’d climb out onto my roof and wish on the stars with the old rhyme Mom taught us “star bright star light first start I see tonight…” I wish she wasn't going to college.
In the morning we’d go off to school. Teal laughing and blasting the radio. That was one of the best years of my life.
Teal’s room has always been green. We move a lot, so my parents try to maintain continuity within the house. The same rugs, photos, and furniture. And Teal’s room is always green. Fresh minty green with the same ivy duvets she’s always had. In Oakland and Vienna she would dry every rose she got and hang them from velvet ribbons around the room. She’d scribble quotes down on note cards and tape them all over her wall. Sometimes she would call me in to listen to her French essays. Reading them helped her, even if I couldn’t understand. I would sit on her floor reading and rereading the quotes, committing them to memory
“What we do is only a shadow of what we want to do”
“Pull yourself up by your own hair—turn yourself inside out and see the world with fresh eyes”
“We are, each of us, angels with only one wing and we can only fly by embracing one another”
There were pictures, too, of friends from around the world. And some of the two of us playing dress up when we were eight and putting on musical reviews “Willa catapilla” pictures of our family skiing and sitting on porches. I captured it all in my mind. There was no place I loved more than Teal’s room.
When we moved to this house, my mother painted the room next to mine green, “pale mint” to be exact, and put down the same ivy duvets. But the pictures, the roses and the quotes were in a dorm room in Chicago. And I knew for a fact that she danced with her room mate when they both were tired of working.
I got used to that after a while. I could still call Teal and did. I would call her, fingers stiff from cold when I sat in the dark waiting for my parents after rehearsal. I would call her the night before tests, just so she could soothe my nerves, and tell me a joke. She called when the work was too much, or the night was too beautiful for her to handle alone. We got closer still.
Two days ago she left. She took a 100 pound backpack and headed out with fourteen others to the desert for three months. The next day I couldn’t figure out what to do about an event I had to organize. Her phone was on the fourth ring before I realized why she wasn’t picking up.
Somewhere out in a desert my very own Desperado is learning lessons about herself. She’s sweating and crying and burning and grinning and living for herself on her own terms.
The lucky thing is, we’re from the same family, she’ll be sleeping under the stars and it’s in our blood “star bright star light first star I see tonight…” I wish my sister was here.