So my baby sister, Elizabeth, is 15 today.

She’ll kill me that I posted that picture. It’s from a year-or-so ago, and she looks much different now. But I caught her smiling, and it’s one of my favorites. And of course that’s the joy of having your own blog. I debated posting the one of her reading the paper on the toilet as a toddler, but I’d like her to speak to me again so this will be enough.

She was the catalyst for my parents’ decision to move to KS when I was in high school, and everything would have obviously been so different had she not existed. I see her as the event that changed the whole trajectory of my life. And she’s so grown up now, with three colors throughout her short hair and checkered Vans on her feet. She wears Hurley from Pac-Sun and decided in elementary school she was never going to drink or do drugs (I plan to hold her to that now). She’s wicked smart and when she’s not being lazy is in honor classes.

She’s in drama. God help us all.

I took her to lunch yesterday and we talked about politics and music and religion and Mom and Dad. About how they may seem dumb now but if she just waits, she’ll someday realize they’re smarter than they appear. I have one foot in her world and one in theirs. I’ve always felt sort of outside their little nuclear connection, but I like that I’ve settled into a relationship of translator that feels cemented from both sides. I am in the family, finally.

Driving around once in college I made an exhilaratingly rash decision to move back to Denver after graduation. That lasted about four blocks until an old Kenny Loggins song came on that reminded me of what we used to sing to her as a baby. I realized that I couldn’t leave her. Every time Jon and I discuss moving back to CO, I plead with my mom to go also. I don’t know if I’ll successfully be able to leave until Lizzie’s in college.

After all, I wanted a sibling for 15 years. I like having her around.

And I know she’s growing up because she has her first dance soon and she’s agreed to be a girly-girl for the night. Everyone will take pictures and her poor boyfriend will turn many shades of red. My dad will jokingly (but not) tease Brandon about not doing anything that merits cleaning his gun. Mom and I will both get teary-eyed like the dorks we are.

But fear not: the little girl who was once called Truck Driver – for reasons I won’t embarrass her over in public – will always be my baby sister.

And I will always be her Jujus.