I spoke with my little brother today. For nearly two hours. We don’t get to talk like that much anymore. Funny, isn’t it? You grow up and spend every day with someone for eighteen years and then *poof!* You’ve moved and grown up (or tried to), and the person you spent every day with, the boy you spent your summers with skinning your knees, hitting baseballs and building Legos with, scrounging quarters for candy because your mother would never dream of funding your sugar highs, well, he’s 3,000 miles away. Moved to the back burner, treated like that casual acquaintance we all have who you call once in a while so you can remind each other you’re still friends because of that one time when… I spend more time with my coworkers now—randomly assigned strangers—than I do with my brother.
He was born two years and a day after I was and I’ve always said he was the best birthday present my parents ever gave me. Grew up together. He helped keep me sane, and I imagine, I him. Now, we don’t see eye to eye on much, or eye to eye at all since he now has four inches on my height. To compare our lifestyles without seeing the obvious likeness in our faces you may never guess we’re brothers. In our day we’ve both planted bruises on the other, real and metaphorical, and on at least one occasion lost blood to the other.
There’s a shirt hanging on my clothes rack that I never wear. It’s worn out, the cut doesn’t really fit to my liking anymore, nor do the colors. But I’ll never toss it out or give it away, no matter how faded or misshapen it gets. He picked it out for me back when I was a teenager. Got it from Goodwill. Sometimes I wear it around in my bedroom over my t-shirt just because it makes me feel, in some way, like those 3,000 miles aren’t so far away at all, like the fact that this boy, who I share blood and facial features and the first eighteen years of my life with, the fact that some day I will have spent more time away from him than with him, it makes those facts a little easier to accept. It’s like a big hug.
There’s never been anything more challenging, heartbreaking, rewarding, and fulfilling, than brotherhood.