I imagine he sees his sister as crazy, rebellious, absent, etc., but I still like to think he looks up to me, even if not to learn from my successes but my mistakes. This morning my brother called me to inform me he had been accepted to Berklee University in Massachusetts. I was smoking a cigarette on the porch thinking of how proud of him I am when it struck me urgently just how much I love him, and just how much I will miss him.
As children we fought sometimes playfully, more often painfully. We formed an alliance against our parents, made forts under the ping pong table, battled pokemon. I babysat, cooked dinner, put on band-aids. In high school I hid from him. There was no need for him to see the explosive fights with my parents, the things I did with my friends, or the things I did to myself. While I was rebellious, independent, and working he stayed home, quiet, and well-mannered, dependent. Senior year was better when I was on the right medicine and he was getting a little older, already a freshman. I would drive him around in my old gold Volvo, El Guapo, buy him fast food with my tips or just on errands around the city. I would drive him to his friend’s houses, to school every morning. Once I almost got hit by a roid-raging German exchange student in a sports car standing up for him. He never once told my parents about the cigarettes I smoked or the roaches on my dashboard, the hanging rosary knocking them back and forth over the ashtray. Never told them about my sneaking out late, the boys sneaking in, or told my father about the second python under my desk. Then I left.
I never really thought about how I had left him there until I thought about returning and his being away at college. Did he feel more alone? That a piece was missing? Will I feel the same way? When I moved to Charleston I did not know a single person. I called my mother and my boyfriend everyday. I don’t remember calling my father or brother hardly at all. Not so surprisingly, the distance improved both of our relationships. I feel everyone is more tolerable of people they have missed. At least for a little while, longer visits take much more patience, especially with my father. When my brother was sixteen and seventeen and I was nineteen and twenty my brother smoked with me, asked me to buy him beer for parties and for girls, kept his stash in my vacant room.
I pity single children. The best part of having a sibling is having someone as lookout, to keep you from getting grounded, to be honest with you about certain things people need to be honest about.
Now my brother is eighteen and I am twenty one. He is a freshman at the University of Georgia with an acceptance to Berklee in the fall. He is an incredible musician, composer, and songwriter. I am a senior at the College of Charleston with average grades, too many animals, severe senioritis, and no plans of continuing in my field after graduation. He has called me more often this semester, once for comfort after running over a cat in the middle of the road in the middle of the night. While of course I mourned the demise the cat, I secretly reveled in the fact he had confided in me, trusted me with his guilt and remorse. Again he called me to tell me he had been arrested, spent the night in jail with a star football player, got blood on his shirt. He’ll be off probation by May, my parents could do nothing but pity him as I did. Such a sweet kid, he didn’t deserve the icy handcuffs, the ride in the back of the squad car.
I miss my brother, but am proud of his independence and success. He is a missing piece. I can only hope I have inspired him as he has inspired me.