The sun was just setting on the horizon. I knew it would only be a week, but that didn’t make it any less painful. Soon, she would be gone for two weeks, then for a month. Before long, our lives would be pulling us apart and it would be years before we saw each other again. Of course, that wouldn’t really happen, but for now, as I watched my sister pack for college, it was impossible not to worry.

She had been a constant for the past 15 years– as long as I had been alive. I couldn’t imagine the house without her. No more barging into her room for impromptu “study parties” that lasted for hours and evolved into gossip sessions. No more staying up until midnight re-watching Disney movies or binging on our favorite shows. No more throwback karaoke or Hamilton rap battles in the car rides to school. I didn’t want her to go, but aside from dropping out of school and hiding in her dorm room, there was nothing I could do except let her go and wait for her to come back.

I recall this defeated feeling that I felt when my older sister and best friend first moved to college. It had been difficult at first, but we adjusted. And she was always about an hour away, able to come home any weekend she desired. With the constant visits and FaceTimes, the distance between us didn’t seem so big. But now it’s my turn, and I’m moving much further away. 3,000 miles away, to be exact. It won’t be as easy to come back, which means seeing my sister and the rest of my family much less often.

However, unlike two years ago when she was first leaving for college, I no longer worry about us growing apart. I remember when my sister came home last semester after a month of being too busy to come back. We picked up right where we left off. Study parties, car rides, movie nights. It was just like old times, but even better because we had new experiences to share. Though we will grow, learn, and change, we will always have each other.

The feeling of connection that I share with the people I’m closest to is the best part about living. The feeling of knowing someone inside and out, of being completely comfortable to say whatever you want. That’s home. My sister is home. And that will never change. Whether we’re three thousand or three million miles apart, we will always find our way back to each other. I will always find my way back home.