My Brother

My brother is seven years older than me, which means that when I was little, I was the annoying kid sister that had crushes on most of his friends. It also means that a lot of what he liked, I liked — because since he’s older, he’s therefore wiser when it comes to the ways of life.

I remember he gave me his old Journey cassettes one year, and I cherished them for a long time. And while I don’t remember it, he apparently taught me how to blow through a straw — presumably because I was envious one weekend morning of the bubbles he could blow in his chocolate milk, while my glass was still and serene, albeit diminishing in quantity.

When he was 19-ish, he moved out and went to flight school; this terrified most of us. It scared my parents because their son was sprouting wings, and it terrified me because he’d share little bits of knowledge; the more I knew about flying, the less I ever wanted to do it again.

In the fall of 1995, I moved to Michigan for college, and he ended up moving back to California shortly thereafter. I finished grad school in December of 2000, and so with the exception of my year-ish in Connecticut, we’ve both been back here in the state since early 2001.

I was thinking earlier about all our times I remember. Camping when we were kids, s’mores, me wanting to learn how to play the piano because he was taking lessons, him trick-or-treating with me and us going to see “Scrooged” one Christmas but never actually seeing it. I’ll explain: some fool came bursting through the swinging double doors as we were walking into the theater, and the door slammed straight into my right foot, popping my big toenail up and off my toe. Since this was the 80s and the double-sock trend was in full swing, we sat down, I removed my shoe (L.A. Gear, natch) to see the pool of blood, peeled off both socks (one seafoam green, one peach) and almost passed out in my seat. He wanted to go beat the guy up (aww); instead I told him that a wad of napkins from the snack bar would be great. Shortly after that, I hobbled to the car, and we headed home. To this day, I have yet to see “Scrooged.” Oh — but my toenail regrew, and it’s lovely.

I remember us going to visit him in Oklahoma when he got his pilot’s license, and we all hopped in a tiny Cessna to fly somewhere for dinner. He’d set things up so that Pink Floyd’s “Learning to Fly” was playing through our headsets, and the flight was magical.

On another trip to see him when he lived in Florida, he made me a mix tape of Genesis and Simon & Garfunkel, and when we turned in our rental car and headed to the airport, I realized I’d left the tape in the vehicle we’d just dropped off. My heart sunk — not because it was an awesome tape that I’d been so careless with, but because I knew the danger of his job, and that tape was a little piece of him that I wanted to keep close.

I remember him taking me to see my first concert — Queensryche at the Long Beach Convention Center. My mom was a good sport and said she’d take me, but at the last minute he was able to. I think she was excited about that.

I lived at his place after college before I moved into my own apartment, and — being the kind of guy who can pay off a 30-year mortgage in ten years — he made a budget sheet for me to stick to once I was on my own. Except that I really didn’t stick to it at all. Sigh.

I value his influence, his focus, his attention to detail and his character so much, and I don’t believe I’ve ever told him as much. He’s getting married in 2013, and I can’t think of anyone else who has such a good heart in the present, such a sense of commitment to a partnership and such an eye on the future. I am so proud to call him my brother.

I have two more days left of my commitment to “Thanky,” but for 2012, I thought it most appropriate to close out the year with some posts about those who have been here through all of mine: my family. I love them all so much.

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