After the ceremony was over, she took multiple pictures with her friends and told us what each of their plans were. They were all going away of course, including my sister.
On June 21st, we had Tara's Graduation Open House. Teddy and I arrived early to help with the preparations. Tara wanted a cook-out/bonfire type of ordeal. Teddy, of course, was assigned to be the grill master. I helped with the decorations and by the time people started arriving we were mostly prepared. Tara wanted the cats to be put away so they could not bother the guests. This did not happen. The cats, however, were a big hit. At least they enjoyed themselves... They were all quite disappointed when their "new groomers" all went on their way.
Tara walked around talking to each of her guests with the air of a natural hostess. What an actress... She is quite shy, but you wouldn't know it watching her on stage or at this party. Tara has an amazing talent for hiding her awkwardness, unlike me. All these years of watching her on stage have caused my pride for her to swell. I often can make friends and get over some initial shyness by just mentioning "Oh do you know my little sister? She does a lot of plays at the school and Wagon Wheel..." It made me feel important to be her older sister. I did some acting at my high school myself... but not nearly to the extent of Tara's performances. She can rock that stage. I hope to go to many more of her performances in college and maybe even beyond.
Growing up with Tara was exciting and of course entertaining. (I have a lot of great memories with my youngest sister Tiffany too, but this is Tara's graduation story... so sorry Tiffy.) She was born when I was only two years old. I cannot remember when she wasn't around. I remember her being very quiet around everyone. But she would talk to me of course. I would inform the adults what she wanted, until one day when she could no longer put up with the vanilla ice cream that I loved and shouted to everyone that she, in fact, wanted chocolate. Tara was a funny little squirt. Being her big sister, I often had to stick up for her, as big sisters do. But one day when she was quite young, a neighborhood girl wandered over to play with us and was not very kind to Tara. I told the girl to remove herself from our property immediately, of course, because I did not appreciate her treating Tara that way. The grumpy girl walked back across the street and turned around yelling, "Well she's just a little maggot anyways..." I was furious, but just then Tara (who was standing next to me) sucked in her little chest with an offended gasp. Then she burst out her response, obviously showing me she could take care of herself:
"WELL!" She huffed. "YOU are a MAGNET TOO! DON'T COME BACK!"
I burst out laughing. She was adorable.
Tara and I would often dress up in my Dad's long coat with glasses complete with a giant nose and mustache attached. She would climb up onto my shoulders and we would button up the long coat. We did this merely for the entertainment of guests that would often visit. We would come out in this getup, Tara would disguise her voice and we would call ourselves "Mr. Mustache." It was comical. One time we even walked around the neighborhood trying to convince the neighbors that we were really an awkwardly shaped, wobbly man, with skinny little girl legs.
When Tiffany came, we reluctantly accepted her into our close-knit click. Soon she was joining us in our queer adventures. One day we found the food coloring... and we did what any normal child would do: we rubbed the green all over our faces, messed up our hair and grabbed brooms. We all ran around the house screeching in our high pitch witch voices. Our parents found us and were amused and probably very worried for our sanity... and their own. Our childhood was filled with fun and entertaining events like these...
Because we are only two years apart, Tara and I have always been very close. When I went to college it was tolerable, because I only lived five minutes away. Then when Teddy and I got married, it was still alright, because we do not live far and we visit quite often. Now... Tara is going to college. She is not going to be five minutes away. Tara is attending Hanover College. It is at least four hours south of us. Don't get me wrong, I am so excited for her. But, I am very sad I will not be able to visit her whenever I want. Being Tara's big sister, I have always been there for her in case she needed advice or help. Now she is growing up and once again, she is showing me that she can take care of herself. I just imagine that tiny little girl next to me shouting that she wants chocolate ice cream and warding off her own bully with a sharp comeback. This is just another one of those times. I am so very proud of her and her accomplishments. I know deep down that she will do well on her own and have so much fun at Hanover.
I love you Tara! I wish you the best of luck!
(p.s. This does not mean that you won't be getting tons of texts, snap-chats, and Facebook messages from me... Sorry ;) )