The Ivy Reminder

Graphic by Natalie Kulak ’21

Graphic by Natalie Kulak ’21

BY MIA PENNEKAMP ’20

I remember the blackened tooth my sister had for a year because I let go of the rope. The game was tug-of-war; she was three and went crashing down onto the hard marble floor. I think I won that round. Ivy, four years my junior, looks a lot like me — with a few key variations. While I’m pale, she’s sun kissed. While I wear my dark hair straight and long, she embraces the natural tumble of her lighter locks. All of our shared features are softer on her. In both looks and personality where I’m sharp, she’s soft. I thrift cleavage-bearing tank tops, blue jeans and mini-skirts. She buttons up in head-to-toe J.Crew. Our differences become increasingly apparent beyond the physical. She’s calm and content while I’m loud and restless. Sweet where I’m snarky. Faithful where I’m questioning. She is orderly and organized, relishing in routine. I don’t make the bed, or the curfew. She would never let go of the rope. 

I wake up in white sheets, my mascara-stained pillow cases staring me in the face. I spend 15 minutes I don’t have reading Cosmopolitan articles via Snapchat. I drag myself out of bed, my red painted toes hitting the cold linoleum floor of the Delles basement. I survey the room. There is laundry to do, books to read, papers to write, appointments to make, messes to clean. I take a deep breath. I reach for my toes, hang there, shake head “yes,” shake head “no.” Roll up. I pretend that yoga calms me. Zen and now, it does. I think of my friends that have been up for hours, scurrying around campus. I think of their spotless rooms and military style bed making — quarter test passing beds. I think of their involvement and ribbons and activism and will to exercise. I start to feel like shit. Am I not doing enough? Then I get a phone call: it’s Ivy. I spend 15 minutes I don’t have talking to her. When I hang up, I feel good. For a reason entirely unfathomable to me, Ivy thinks I have my shit together. She calls me, asking: “What would you do? How did you get through this? What do you think?” I think I am a mess. She thinks differently. 

I remember leaving for college. I had a small graduation party with just a few friends and family. We ate cheeseburgers and drank wine around the wooden table in the kitchen. Ivy sat drinking sparkling apple cider out of a champagne flute, the forever baby. Surprising then that Ivy, with her phone calls, could be the one to pull me up whenever I feel consumed, overwhelmed, inept, like a forever baby. It’s the Ivy reminder: “Who really has their shit together?” I’d say, to those feeling the perfection pressure, remember that you’re doing just fine. Remember your Ivy.

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