“I just never saw myself as someone who would get that far. College was never meant to happen for me, I think.” Katie uttered these words like they were normal.
Our shoes were crunching on the gravel road of Nantucket in College Station, Texas. Mom had driven us down from Austin to see our grandparents that weekend. While she was sitting them down to tell them Dad had moved out, we decided it was tactful to take a walk. While we progressed slowly through the neighborhood, I had turned the conversation over to one of my all time favorite topics. Our futures and what we wanted to do with our lives was something we had both relished talking about. We had been making wild plans ever since we were little.
However, as I began listing what I wanted in my dream home Katie decided to drop the bomb. Momentary alarm took hold of me as she claimed she didn’t think she could handle life. Her confession that day was a result of many things, but I didn’t take her seriously. Here we were holding hands and swinging our arms like usual. Nothing seemed out of place and I couldn’t imagine a world where Katie wouldn’t go out and try to get all the things she’d wanted from life. But ever since that day Katie’s actions held true to her words.
Over the years my little sister Julia and I watched as Katie struggled through middle school and high school. From her scores it was apparent that she was gifted, earning an almost perfect 800 in critical reading when forced to take the SAT. But she skipped school, got into trouble, did drugs and drank. She never did her homework and got into screaming matches with our parents. Before she would sneak out at night, she would come into my room to make sure I was doing my homework. While she fought with our parents and eventually moved out, she was the sole reason I didn’t stray from my path.
She made sure I never put a toe out of line, constantly telling me that too much was at stake. I couldn’t understand her, and I would plead with her to make an effort since she made sure I did. She would always brush me off when I told her about her potential. The only reason I could think of for her behavior was that she was determined to be an example for her younger sisters, the ultimate PSA. While she did all of these things, I studied and struggled against our parents apathy to grades and plans. These things were not viewed as a priority in our home.
Now I am a senior in high school and Julia is a freshman. I have begun to witness Julia molding into the same form. She’s not interested in drinking and parties and is studying hard for grades. I mentioned this on the way home from class one day and Julia grumbled, “Yeah well, I don’t want to end up like Katie.” Hearing this is equivalent to taking a knife to the stomach, and it causes me to wonder why our older sister chose a different path.
I still don’t know her motivations, but she insists she is happy. Katie’s life is hard right now. She is a full time waitress at a local bar and is struggling through a tough relationship. She sometimes cannot make ends meet, but she is always cheerful when she visits us and hears about our plans. Unfortunately, this is not a happy look into my life but I can promise you it is a positive one. Although I don’t understand her, I am grateful to Katie.
Though she never seemed to believe in herself, she always told us to not ‘jack around’ and she’s taught me that it doesn’t matter what you have or where you’ve been. The only thing that matters is if you’re willing to go out and work for what you want. Katie made sure I fought for my fair share.