She has bright brown eyes that match her freckles, and hair that goes light at the ends from an amusement with bleach that started somewhere in eighth grade. When she laughs it can fill the air in a room, and squeeze through cracks under doors so the people outside can hear it, too. The day she changed from a cousin into a sister to me is tattooed on my left wrist in roman numerals. I wanted a way to explain the cause of all the abstract tendencies of mine in a concrete way.

My mom once told us that introverts can also be extroverted, but they need their alone time to “recharge.” Both of us being introverts, we laughed because we spend our “alone time” together—watching the Office on Netflix and cracking open sunflower seeds—recharging our energy for the rest of the world that doesn’t speak our language. Today I was driving home and asked her if she knows anybody that is in true love. She thought briefly, before responding “well, me and you”, and I laughed not because it was a joke, but more because of how true it was and that I had to clarify I meant romantically.

We share our own brand of humor that we developed from spending so much time with one another. A mix of socially inappropriate pop-references, as well as made up scenarios we say out loud that make sense to nobody else. Sometimes we guess what color each others souls are and she tells me yellow, but I always picture hers changing from one bright color to the next. Other times we tell each other which flower we see the other as, and she for sure is a sunflower.

One of the realest moments in my life was the day we came home from school and she dropped her backpack in our front walkway. The walkway is made of concrete and her phone was in an outside pocket and shattered. She froze the moment she saw her screen and floated upstairs to her room as I followed closely behind, where she then wept in uncontrollable waves. I quickly realized she wasn’t really crying over the phone, but that all of her stress and sadness from the situation that led her to come live with us was coming out in the form of this minor incident. It was early fall when she first came to live with us, where almost everyday was beautiful and burnt so the air smelt like candles. I decided then that it was my own broken cracks that fit perfectly into hers and together we would help each other be whole.

I think a soulmate is somebody who you spend your alone time with, and who you can speak to through comfortable silence. Mine just happens to be a sunflower with bright brown eyes that match her freckles who can make a cashier at Dunkin’ Donuts burst into uncontrollable laughter, just by overhearing the first thing she says as we walk in the door.

—By Emily L., 18, Chicago