Goodbye, Paul.

Growing up, it was just me and my brother, Barry. We have two close cousins that are more like sisters, but all in all we have a pretty small family. And that's always been perfectly fine with me. Barry and I would entertain ourselves on long road trips by shooting suction-cup bow and arrows at each other's window. And on Christmas morning, we would wake up ridiculously early to start sorting the presents under the tree. As we've grown up, I like to think that we've matured and become friends in the process. Now we meet for lunch or go shopping for Barry's apartment. It's always been just us two.

And then along came Paul.

This last year, my parents hosted a German exchange student. At first, we weren't sure about this tall, red-haired guy named Paul, but soon he became the third sibling to our dynamic duo.

Chicago

Paul is the most hilarious, quick-witted German I've ever met. And that's saying something. ;) It doesn't matter that English is his second language, he still gets all the jokes and can give them right back to you. Not a day would go by where I was with Paul and he wasn't playfully picking on me. Just like a little brother, right?

He became an obvious fixture in my parent's house. I would go home to visit and he would be there in the kitchen, just like normal. He even took over my room and my place at the table!

Paul in Chicago_0002

Today, Paul starts his journey home to Germany. It seems like just yesterday my mom was telling me they were going to host an exchange student and now here he is leaving! To quote The Office's Andy Bernard: "I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them."

I think I speak for my whole family when I say that Paul has added so much to our lives this year.Β He fit into our family seamlessly, and he will be missed. We love you, Paul!

Chicago