I know a young woman

I know a young woman with beautiful brown eyes and a head full of music and auburn curls. She has birthed two little red-haired boys, and loves them fiercely. She is a wonderful mother, always striking that balance between letting the boys incur a few scraped knees while still keeping them out of harm's way.

She is a free spirit, unattached to material things for the most part. You might call her a hippy chick. She's happy grooving to music (made by offbeat indie bands) on satellite radio and has even been known to beat a tribal drum (literally).

Edicts like "a place for every thing, and every thing in its place" hold little meaning for her. If something explodes in the microwave, she will probably just leave it there. I visited her in her dorm room once when she was in college. "Oh, don't step over there," she instructed me, pointing at a tile on the floor. "Ramen noodle spill."

As a child, she was day-dreamy and thoughtful. On family car trips to Myrtle Beach, we always had to check and make sure she'd made it back into the car after a rest stop. She'd get lost in her own world and not say much for long stretches at a time. We'd tease her about some of her eccentricities, such as the time she cut off her eyelashes. Or, when she'd take the plastic bags in which the Washington Post was delivered to our home, fill them with water, tie them off, and hide them in her dresser drawers. To this day she will not say why.

She is tender-hearted, sensitive. A long-time vegetarian, she cares deeply about animals and is always the first to offer to take in a needy dog, chicken, or goat.

In college, she earned a degree in English, and her offbeat sense of humor comes through in her writing. She writes about her mud-loving sons, her goats, and the music she digs.

A few years ago, she married a man who seemed to love her but then started to bury her bit by bit. He first moved her far away, and then systematically isolated her from everyone who loves her. He canceled their joint bank account and then opened a new one, in his name only. Then he started to chisel away at her self-esteem with a running critique on everyday tasks. Over time she started to forget how smart she is, how creative, how beautiful. She turned her angst inward and wondered what, exactly, had happened.

My baby sister, she worries me so.