My Brudder

Time's cover story this week is, "How your siblings make you who you are." It's a very interesting article, though it does include as apparent "news" or "revelations" things that were fairly self-evident to me, such as sibling relationships being closer than parent-child relationships.

But it did get me thinking about my relationship with my brother. I call him a hipster snob, sometimes. When talking to our parents, I sometimes refer to him as, "Your less attractive, less intelligent son." But it's all just one of my pathetic little attempts at humor. My brother is probably the coolest guy I know, and without question the most meaningful and important relationship in my life next to Emily. He's wikid smaht. He generally does have a pretty good grasp of what's cool and interesting in the wide, wide pop-cultural world - but no true self-respecting hipster would voluntarily spend two years living in Guatemala. And that's another thing worthy of mention: his nearly boundless sense of adventure never ceases to amaze me. I'm quite certain that were I given the opportunity to ride down something billing itself as "The World's Most Dangerous Road" on a rented bicycle of questionable quality, I would pass without hesitation. Not him. did my sibling make me who I am?

Well, growing up as his younger brother was tough, no doubt. Because he is so smart and so capable in academic settings, following him through high school was brutal. Teachers expected Another Him in me, and they most definitely didn't get it. After he graduated, I spent two years being asked about him by one teacher or another every couple of days. As for our parents...well, best not to get into that, really. Suffice to say I believe that they, too, were not just a little disappointed not to get Another Him. I don't doubt that they love me, and that at this point they're at least vaguely proud of me, but I do think that the disappointment lingers. None of this is his fault, of course. Just the accidental result of him being who he is.

Beyond that...

The most important thing is that I learned to draw from him. Not that he ever sat down and gave me lessons or anything, but as a wee lad, I watched him drawing and emulated him. As a kid, I was always frustrated that (in my opinion) my art was never as good as his. I don't really know how much drawing he does today, but I hope he still does at least some.

He was an asshole when we were kids, as older brothers are wont to do, teasing me until I screamed and refusing to leave my room when all I wanted was solitude. But along the way, I believe I developed a pretty thick skin and learned patience (which, I think, is one of my best qualities).

Don't get the idea that he was all bad, though. We played with our extensive collection of Star Wars toys for hours on end together, and he continued to play with me and my equally extensive collection of G.I. Joes, even after he was probably a little too old to be all that interested in it. He tolerated having an annoying little brother tagging along much better than I suppose I had any right to expect.

It was through him and his friends that I discovered the works of JRR Tolkien and role-playing games. I don't mean to disillusion those of my loyal readers who have the uber-hipster image of my brother stuck in their heads, but in junior high, he was a fairly avid gamer, pretending along with his friends to be half-elf rangers and dwarven fighters and suchlike whilst listening to the Led Zep sing the Misty Mountain Hop and Rush reminding us all that even if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice. He has long since given up the hobby, but I will admit without embarrasment that at nearly 30, I do still enjoy the sound of polyhedral dice rattling on a tabletop.

Heck of a guy, my brother. He hasn't lived any less than 1200 miles away from me since shortly after he graduated college. I miss having him nearby, and I hope that one day we might be able to hang out together for more than a few days out of each year.