The summer we turned twenty-two, you and I would go to Europe, but at separate times. I would go with my conservative Christian parents and rebellious, aloof sister on a short vacation, and you were to go as an au pair in August, to leave everyone behind: your mother and angry stepfather, your boyfriend Deon, your dog, me. Ten months teaching English to two children six miles outside of Paris, selling your furniture, streamlining your wardrobe—remember you read a blog on how to cut it down to twelve outfits?—learning French. If that doesn’t fix a person, doesn’t force them to find out who they want to be, what can? I went out of the country. Couldn’t find myself within a thousand mile radius. When I know how much of you is here, how many leftovers from high school, from four years of college. I’m here, and I’m part of you.
Of course, this isn’t a letter of anger about your leaving; it’s a letter of change. Our generation is getting married too soon, and we know better. We change better than everyone else. We’ll find ourselves better. As though at the beginning of time God had sorted us into baskets, those with ambition, who have interests like yoga, or photography, or scrapbooking, with the will to order, and those who are careless, who settle for community college, who don’t put away dishes or clean out their inboxes. In one basket, those girls who don’t get married before twenty-two. In the other, those who never leave our hometown. Those who do.