Tuesday, September 20, 2005

With a properly placed lever...

My 18-year-old sister has a full time job now, and we're all pretty relieved. For those who might have lost track, Sara moved in with The Husband and I two months ago. We're trying to help her get her start in life; she's taking a year off between High School and college to figure out what she wants to do with herself in the long run. I'm excited about her job at a local grocery store because this job will pay her decent wages for her age (three dollars over minimum per hour), and even better, this place will actually extend a health care plan to her after 90 days - I was so, so worried about her having no health care.

Having my sister live with us has been great, if sometimes nervous-making. I've been sick for a month now, and she was there to help keep the mess in the house down to a tolerable level and to cook sometimes when the thought of cooking made me ill. Sara made friends right away with others her age in the neighborhood, and likes to stay out late. I worried a lot at first about that - we do live in a huge city - but The Husband reminded me again and again that Sara is an adult now, and in charge of her own life. I reminded him again and again that Sara's not been properly looked after for ages, and lacks good judgement. "How good was your judgement at 18?" I asked. The Husband refuses to admit that he was ever immature.

It's hard not to baby my sister sometimes. She's very into the grafitti scene, and because she is smart and quick and talented has already met a few big name artists. She hasn't told me about any of her art, because she knows I don't want to know. A huge part of street art's appeal is that it will always be illegal, and a thrill to create. One of her favorite artists signed her shoe one night, and she proudly scanned that shoe to show all of her friends back in Nashville.

She comes home at night and tells me about warehouses where a dozen or more young artists live, splittling the rent in a concrete-floored space where there's only a stage and sleeping bags around. She tells me about meeting a band of gay boys who perform electric-pop versions of video game music. She tells me about dancing with drag queens and the store in Cabbage Town with spray tips and crashing art parties way out in Buckhead. Sara is having the time of her life. I try to keep an open mind and not flinch when she tells me that she wants to live in the warehouse, or the funny story about her buying a bike for $40 off of a crackhead and painting it right away in case it was stolen.

Sara's old enough to take care of herself, I have to keep reminding myself. I know I'm doing the right thing by staying out of her way, but giving her the tools she needs right now to succeed - she has a stable place to come home to every night and plenty of food. I'm taking her to the dentist to fix her neglected teeth, and showing her why keeping a ledger is a good idea. I need to be respectful that Sara's finding her own side of Atlanta. Her territory overlaps with mine - we both can't think of living anywhere but our side of town - but her side of Atlanta is more daring and younger and full of risk and art and a good deal dirtier. I have loaned her my very nice digital camera and she can use my internet connection as much as she would like. When you are 18 you can make your own destiny shiny and new every single day. When you are 18, all you need is a big enough lever, and you can move your whole world.

Sara's going to be OK, now that she has a good job within walking distance to our house. She's a hard worker, and no matter what happens, I know that being a good worker will carry her through this part of her life well. She plans on moving out before the baby is due. I hope she doesn't feel too much pressure about that.

My stomach now pokes out in a round. The texture of my belly has changed, from soft and squishy to harder and dense - I've built up strange new connective tissues in my abdomen. The baby makes me tired all the time now too, but that's most likely part of the anti-nausea medicine I've been given. I fall asleep before 9 most nights lately, but I have been feeling a little bit better. I managed to cook last night for the first time in quite a while. I'm worn out from being so sick, and from the new job, but I'll be OK. Come visit next month, we miss you.

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