We wanted a dog, we got a baby sister; luckily she turned out pretty great, or we would have totally traded her in for that dog.
As of Monday, July 7, 2008, at 9:05 a.m., my baby sister, Margot Ashton Messina, the “baby Nunu”, officially became a college graduate. I was lucky enough to spend her last official weekend as a College of Charleston student with her in Charleston, South Carolina, and that’s when I decided to write this blog. (**I flew SWA in to Jacksonville, FL, then drove a quick 3.5 hours to Charleston—so worth the drive!)
I’m not really the weepy type, but for some reason, seeing Margot in her element just got to me. I watched in awe as she and her best girlfriends Patrice (“Pat Rice”) and Natalie (“Nat G.”) walked around the great Low Country like they were government officials—they knew everyone on the street, at the beach, and, of course, in the packed college bars. It suddenly hit me that Margot is not a baby anymore, and I wanted her to know how much I have enjoyed watching her get to this important turning point in her life.
So, Margot, I was in third grade when you were born. I remember being called out of Mrs. LeGrande’s class because I had a phone call in the principal’s office—8lbs, 8 oz, a healthy baby girl. What I didn’t find out until I saw you for the first time was that babies are sometimes born with pointy heads and bad skin—I was worried sick but never let anyone know; you (and your many chins) were just awesome to me. (Don’t worry, her head is normal and she has long since grown out of that skin and those chins, but that is my first memory of my little sister.)
You sat there happily and let me dress you up and spike your hair with mousse. You were a very happy little kid, but seemed to cry louder than any other baby in the universe. Remember when you got sick at Callaway Gardens during the play? As gross as it was, it’s one of my best Margot memories.
I can still hear your raspy, pack-a-day little voice delivering those spectacular student council election speeches and belting out tunes from The Lion King soundtrack ; your love for Jonathan Taylor Thomas was just adorable—I love that you named your first dog Max because JTT had a dog with the same name.
You soon got over JTT and moved on to Leonardo DiCaprio. Have you gotten over Leo yet? Of course you have, you had to make room for Kevin from the Backstreet Boys. For such a cool little kid-- one who wore Airwalks, one who could Rollerblade rings around the boys, one who met Hootie, one who swam right up to Sting to say hello while all the adults pretended he wasn’t there-- your teeny bopper side still shines through; I like to take all the credit for that.
Working with you at Ripples was one of my favorite times; only you and I can break into “At Ripples…” at any time and get such a kick out of it. And I think you, Mimi, and I will forever startle at the first downbeat of “All I want for Christmas is You”—how many days of holiday camp did we wake to that?
As you got a little older, and started growing out of your snaggletooth phase, you moved to Florida where you would finish high school. I was concerned; New Orleans is in our blood, what would those beach dwellers think of Margot and her funny obsession with Rent? As usual, I had nothing to worry about. You fit right in, becoming a soccer star and hostess of some of the best parties those Niceville kids had ever seen. When those snotty girls left you out of prom plans, you let it roll off your back in typical Margot fashion while your family was ready to kill.
Where did you come from? It’s like you took my silliness and mixed it with Mimi’s (our big sister) tell-it-like-it-is attitude and came up with this laid back, brilliantly funny, all around cool chick; the perfect balance for all the drama that has surrounded the family since before you were born. (Would we spell it Margo? Margeaux? Would people pronounce the “t” if we spelled it that way? Such serious issues!)
So here we are today. You blossomed the second you stepped foot on that campus in Charleston and met your friends. I am not sure I will ever really get over you pledging Chi Omega (it hurts my Tri Delta heart!), but I know you found your place. You have some of the best friends anyone could ask for. I have never laughed so hard as when spending time with you, Pat Rice, Nat G, and the rest of the gang (when is Dave’s show premiering?).
You lived in Italy and were just a rock star all over Europe. I’m not sure I could have done that at your age.
You and I can now share clothes and shoes and have some of the funniest conversations on earth—there are not many other people I can say are genuinely concerned about the well-being of Britney Spears the way we are, or who appreciate YouTube performances from Rent, Wicked, Kelly Clarkson, and Tony & JC the way we do-- and I couldn’t love it more. I can now confess that I secretly loved when you would call and try to bribe me to write your papers for you; you knew I would have happily done all of them for you, but I knew you were perfectly capable and just had a raging case of college procrastination disease, so I had to practice “tough love”.
I know you are thinking, “Why is Mallory writing a blog about me,” and the answer is simple: I am so proud of you and can’t wait to see what happens next in your life.
I know you are at an age where you don’t want listen to life or career advice from anyone, but I will take this forum to shamelessly promote Southwest Airlines and to tell you that you are a perfect candidate to work for the Company. If Colleen Barrett knew you the way I do, she would probably put your picture next to the definition of Living the Southwest Way—you have a huge Servant’s Heart, an unwavering Warrior Spirit, and the biggest Fun-LUVing Attitude on earth. Just keep that in mind as you begin your search for a career path. Even if you don’t end up at SWA, just remember you can do anything and that you possess those qualities that will help you ride straight to the top of any organization.
You are a grown up now. I don’t know if there are other older siblings out there that have gone through this when they realize the baby of the family is no longer a little squirt. (It’s not helping me during my crisis over turning 30, either!) I have a hard time believing you can drink legally or drive a car, let alone graduate from college. If only dad were around to see this, he would be even more proud than I am, I just know it. I’m sure he would be telling everyone about his girl graduating from college and beginning her takeover of the world. Nunu, you’ve taken everything life has handed you and made the absolute best of it, and I don’t think dad or any of us could have asked for anything more.
No, this isn’t your “official” graduation present, that will be a surprise, but I hope you know how much your big sister loves (and LUVs!) you and is on the edge of her seat waiting for your next move.
P.S.- Margot, you can search for jobs at SWA here: