I can still tell you all the statistics from when she was born. 9:25 am on her due date. 8 pounds, 8 ounces, 21 inches long.
Do you know how crazy it is to look at a teenager and know that you held her on her birthday -- her original birthday, her day of birth.
And now she's 16. In Missouri, where Anna lives, you can get your driver's licence when you're 16. In a weak attempt to think of a theme for this birthday blog post, I started thinking of memories with Anna that took place in cars.
And I am a little surprised -- as far as a theme for a post goes, it's not a stellar one, but I can remember Anna growing up through these memories.
When she was an infant, we took a three-day family road trip through Canada to Maine. Emily passes the eff out on road trips when she's not driving, so I was left feeding infant Anna from jars of baby food for most of the trip.
When Anna was three or so? toddler ish, not sure exactly how old, we were on a road trip. In my memory, we were in Arkansas, though there's only about a 3% chance that's right. It was dark, we were driving and this song came on the radio:
(There's also a something percent chance it wasn't that song. But. Regardless. It was a song that sounded like that.)
And we look at Anna and she is ROCKING OUT. Full on air guitar, headbanging, singing along. And none of us can figure out how she knows about air guitar, headbanging, or the words to the song, but girl had it going on.
When I was an RA, there was a tradition in the hall I worked in to make a staff CD. Every RA picked a song that represented themselves and one person burned CDs for all of us. The summer after my first year as an RA, I was OBSESSED with the CD. For some reason I was driving Anna around a lot that summer. We listened to the CD so much that, by the end of the summer, Anna could tell me which of the 18 songs belonged to which RA. She hadn't ever met any of them -- but she paid attention and memorized them all. That's how much time we were in the car together that summer.
That same summer, Anna and I went on a road trip to a part of Arkansas that was only an hour and a half or so away. I will probably always remember that trip because, for the first time ever, Anna was allowed to sit in the front seat of my car. She was finally old enough. And it was a bigger moment than I realized. Anna started as a tiny little thing, and then she was always my baby sister. Suddenly, on that road trip, she was more like a friend. She sat next to me and DJed the whole drive. She picked music and we talked like friends talk and she wasn't a baby anymore, or even a kid really. All of a sudden, she was grown up.
There have been more awesome memories in cars. The two years we've driven around our hometown to look at Christmas lights. Driving to plays together, and driving to see Brian Regan live. And the time our Uncle Mark picked us up from the airport and drove like a mad man to the beach house (although the summer before, when Anna went to New Jersey with Emily, they missed their flight home. So that, I'm sure, was a crazier drive).
Last November, I was home for Thanksgiving and Anna had just gotten her driving permit. We were off to visit my grandma, who lives only a few blocks away, and Anna asked me if she could drive.
I about had a panic attack. I had only gotten my car in May (and had only lived 24 years... I wanted a few more!)
But either that same trip home or when I was home for winter break, I let Anna drive me to grandma's in my car.
I remember telling her to slow waaaaaay earlier than she felt like she had to -- just for my sanity, because I get nervous with experienced drivers who don't brake till the last second, let alone my fifteen year old sister.
And Anna did great.
When I got home, I told my mom and she remarked that it was incredible that Anna was able to even make that adjustment -- to not only realize when she should brake, but also to brake earlier than that.
Sometime soon, she'll get her very own driver's license. She'll take her first trip somewhere by herself. (Do you remember your first drive alone? I went to get milk. My dad, on his way home, saw me, turned around and followed me. Rude.)
And she's about to make that memory.
I'm rambling now, I know it. Probably no one I'm not related to will read this far anyway. But all of this is to say, happy birthday Anna. I'm so proud of who you are, so excited for all that's ahead of you, and so grateful that you've turned into such a good friend.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANNA.