“Your cousins said they couldn’t believe how much you’ve changed,” my mom told me two weeks ago as we drove to Chautauqua.
Papa died in May of 2011. That was the last time I had seen the only two cousins I have on my mom’s side.
Senior in high school. Seventeen. Tightly wound. Homebody. Impressionable. Judgmental. Narcissistic. Steady boyfriend with military ideals. Clean, if that makes sense.
Cigarette smoke floated up to my window from the front porch and I silently cursed the headache-inducing smell, along with my cousins’ useless nicotine addictions.
They saw a different Emily last month.
Junior in college. Nineteen (nearly 20!). Explorative. More –– but not completely –– open-minded. Independent. Still tightly wound, but knows now how to let go.
Short, boyish hair. Navel piercing. Tattoo (a new addition!). Bigger thighs (a big thank-you goes out to those damn squats in weight room freshman year).
And I don’t mind the cigarette smoke anymore.
I wouldn’t be who I am now if I had stayed in that militaristic relationship.
So I’m glad 17-year-old Emily is gone. This 19-year-old Emily has seen more of the world and, as a result, is closer to her older brothers and cousins than she ever thought she’d be.