Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What Are Brothers For?

This doesn't exactly represent my brother and myself entirely well, but it captures the idea of one of the answers to my titular question.

I cannot speak for every set of brothers out there, so this may not all stand true for them, but I will try my best to explain what it is to have a brother. Frankly, it's unlike anything else. I have never believed in compatibility derived simply from blood relation, but there is something between my brother and I, who have very little in common, that makes our relationship stronger than any other I have. I do not miss anybody when I go somewhere, anyone except my brother. I will try to give you some answers to my question through anecdotes and then I will probably just make a list of others that I don't want to elaborate on or can't but imagine them to be a role for a brother.

Here are a few stories:

This first one is a retelling through pieces of stories from family members, as I can barely remember this.

Story 1
When I was 14, he was 12, we went to Myrtle Beach for the third time in our lives, second time we could remember. My brother, if you don't know him, was a very hyper child and at times could influence me to be the same way. However, at 14, I was determined to be mature and facilitate between the adults and the kids. Because you know, 14 is time to stop being a kid. But anyway, as usual, my brother was being his rambunctious self and it seemed to have been getting on the nerves of the adults. These adults will try to use other language to describe that, but that's the best way to do so. 

Multiple times we were sat down by our family members and told to calm down, these words moreso for him and pleading me to calm him down myself. One time, when apparently I recognized it as being the last straw for my brother and the frustration was palpable among the adults, I suppose I decided to take things in to my own hands. I grabbed him and told him we should go down to the beach, unthreateningly so, and he followed. We walked past my uncle who was reading on the porch and I can imagine from his point of view watching me as I pushed an unsuspecting lamb into my trap. We walked down the steps and once at the bottom, I imagine I started verbalizing how he needed to stop. Knowing how these interactions typically went, he probably wasn't listening, so I resorted to another method. Here is where my sensory memory gives me some brief flashes.

I remember hitting him first with those foam noodles you use to float in water and eventually pinning his face in the sand and rubbing it into the earth. That's the most I remember clearly, but I imagine I made extreme threats through gritted teeth as he angrily pleaded me to get off of him. Once I was satisfied that my point was made, I walked up the steps without a glance at my uncle and he told him to sit down to chat. 

It is said my brother behaved pretty well the rest of the trip.

Story 2
Once I went to the University of Cincinnati for a visit, it was never a doubt that I would attend college there. And so it happened. It was an easier decision than expected, but the hardest part was leaving my brother. And since I was gone so often, when I came home it was easier to get along. Now my parents will say it never changed, because we still bickered plenty, but that's brotherhood. Only him and I can tell you we truly got along better, and we did.

I can't remember the exact weekend or time I came home to visit, but I think it was right before we knew we wouldn't see each other for a while, so I want to say it was right before he left for the Air Force. Nobody was home and we were silently dreading my going to Cincinnati, which was coming soon. As time ticked down and I knew I couldn't drag it out any longer, I started to head out. We hugged as usual, no tears or anything girly like that, but to ease the pain, we started joking. 

I remember walking down the steps in our garage and for whatever reason, rap music videos became the topic. More specifically, random white guys dancing horribly in the background was the topic. I was at the bottom of the steps, slowly walking away as he demonstrated the moves, which consisted of simultaneous yet out-of-sync pelvic thrusts, headbangs, punching fists and an accompanying, overly loud "WOOOOO!!!!" As he did it I laughed, and in turn mimicked him, resulting in his laugh. We went back and forth for a little until we were both literally doubled over, laughing to hysterical tears. I slowly made my way to the car, through fits of literally painful laughter, and got in and drove off with a wave. 

Before I got to the end of the street, the grandparent-disapproved activity of texting while driving commenced (I'm including it because it's the cutest part). The conversation went something like this.

Me: That was soooo dumb
Him: Yeah but frickin hilarious
Me: Haha true, oh well.
Him: I'll miss you man
Me: We'll see each other soon. But I'll miss you too.

 Story 3:
If you don't want to know the insane thoughts that go through people's minds, then don't read this one. If you have had thoughts that you thought made you insane, but have never admitted it, then you are not alone. This can be disturbing if you stifle those thoughts or ignore them, but I think it's part of what makes us human, so I'm going to be completely transparent, as usual, and share them.

My brother was in basic training in Wichita Falls, starting the second phase of his enlistment after basic training. I was in Cincinnati, starting my senior year of classes. To communicate, we used Skype. He called me one day, and he was deeply disturbed.

I could see the hesitation in his pixelated face, and asked him what was up. 
"I think I'm going crazy man," he said in a scared tone.
I replied with a simple "why," deciding to let him just be honest.
"I don't know how else to put this but I'm going to be forward." I thought he knocked someone up at this point, but he continued and I learned something entirely different.
"We've been at the shooting range this week, and some weird thoughts have gone through my head." Again he hesitated, and I prodded him further.
"I pictured myself turning to the side and just shooting everyone in my batallion." His voice cracked here, then he asked what he dreaded. 
"Does that make me crazy?"
I laughed and told him "no,"and I followed with my own "demented" visualizations.

"Junior year I had a Spanish Culture class and I sat behind this beautiful girl from the Eastern-African country of Eritrea. Where she came from gave her the most beautiful complexion and some days she would wear her hair up, exposing her neck. Whenever she did this, I would look at her neck, and imagine myself taking my pen and jamming it into there, or taking my pocket knife and pulling her head back and cutting her throat (His eyes widened here too, so it's having the same effect on you). I then pictured myself sprinting out of the classroom, bowling over anyone who stepped in my way, running to the ATM and withdrawing everything I had, running to my car and taking off in some direction, only to be caught immediately, stepping out my car and acting as though I had a gun in my back pocket, aggressively grabbing for it and going down in a blaze of gunfire like Sonny from the Godfather."

His jaw was dropped. 

"You think you're crazy? You're not crazy at all, that's a normal thought we humans have when we know we have power. You're only crazy if you act out those fantasies."

"Holy shit, dude. Thanks."

(Don't think of me differently, I guarantee this has happened to most of you)

These are just a few of the stories that cover what has happened between us. For those of you with brothers, or sisters even, these might ring home. If not, maybe the following list will contain some of the roles or ideas you have of a sibling.
Wingman, placing blame, accepting blame, forgiveness, inspiration, fun, comic relief, inside jokes, telling stories, shared growth, vent, a second opinion, a punching bag(literally and figuratively), subject of a narrative, making plans, empathizing, sympathizing, guinea pig-ing, emotional support, infallible physical support(you hit whoever hits your brother, no matter how big) taking out frustrations, pushing buttons, understanding a broken heart, whatever you need.

Specifically, this one is for my brother and all other brothers who love their brothers like we love each other. That bond is unbreakable.

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