Senior Column: Charlotte Heinrich

Art by Grayson Joyce.

Art by Grayson Joyce.

College: The College of Charleston

Majors: Business and Hospitality, with a minor in Historical Preservation

A lot of people don’t know I have a sister. Eleanor, who we call El, is 6 years older than me. To top it off, little miss smarty pants skipped a grade, creating a seven-grade difference.

I spent my elementary school years wondering about this teen across the hall. My room was turquoise with bright bulletin boards, her’s was a creamy brown decked with her artwork. Most of my wardrobe was from Abercrombie & Fitch, while El’s was from Goodwill. None of the music she blasted was on Z107.7, she’d slam the door when she had to go to church and she worked out for fun. How could we even be related?

But as I’ve gone through high school, that girl across the hall and I have become more alike. If I could walk across the hall to her room, here’s what I’d tell her now.

I spent my elementary years I spent my elementary school years wondering about this teen across the hall”

El, you should take it easy. You don’t have to stay up late on all of these assignments to prove you’re smart. You don’t have to go on long runs to tone the “Heinrich thighs” (thanks, Dad). I know high school is about becoming who you want to be. But get a few “B”s and get seconds of family birthday cakes. You’re doing just fine.

Eleanor (17) and I (11) after Eleanor’s high school graduation ceremony.

El, you’re actually really cool. Senior year prom, you showed up solo in a $20 dress you got from Goodwill the week of the dance. As a fifth-grader, I thought you were kind of weird for this. Why didn’t you go get your hair done and go with a big group? Now after four years of experiencing the social pressures of high school, I’d tell you I wish I had your courage and elegance to pull it off. You didn’t need a fancy dress, a date or the comfort of having 20 acquaintances.

El, I really, really like you. Of course I love you — you’re my sister. But I also really like you. Your fiery spirit has helped me stick up for myself. Your own sense of style gave me the confidence to develop my own. And your carefree attitude toward materialism and social groups helped me connect with so many of my “opposites.”

To the girl across the hall all those years ago, high school has taught me that I am 100% your sister. And thank God for that.