When my brother left for college, he lived in California, and I, still finishing up high school, lived at home in Colorado. When I left for college, I moved to Texas, and my brother, still a student, lived in California. When I quit school, we both lived under the same roof of our childhood for the summer, and then I moved to New York while he remained in Colorado. When I went back to school, we both lived in Colorado but in faraway places. A year later, he moved to Chile, South America. Three years after that, I moved to Seoul, South Korea. A year after that, he moved to Shanghai, China.
He has a new girlfriend, “I’m really, like, I really like this girl, but I fucked it up.”
In the past seven years, the time we’ve both been “real” adults, meaning neither of us is in school, etc., I have seen my brother exactly five times: one time in South America, immediately after I graduated from college, two times between 2011 and 2013 when he returned Stateside to visit, and two times between 2014 and 2017 when he visited me in Seoul. Sadly, I must admit that the only time I made the effort to see him was that first trip down to South America. The trip was convenient and opportunistic. It’s not that I don’t love my brother; I do. The situation is more that I’m really selfish and self-serving. Quality time is really something I want to spend on my lifemate and to be quite honest, myself. I don’t mind when my brother visits, and I don’t mind visiting family, but visiting them rarely crosses my mind as something about which I need to do more in order to see them more.
“That’s a nice coat,” my brother says to me after we exchange hugs. “You look strong in it.” “Ha, thanks. Yea, it’s a man’s coat. I just got it,” I explain. “Nice.”
I see my brother infrequently these days, but more frequently than say, a few years ago. Growing up, our parents had instilled deep within us a sense of do-goodedness by sending us on “mission trips” around the world to spread the “good news” of the particular religion within which we had been ingrained, I mean, raised. As a recovering Christian, I can now see that Christianity, as it were, does have its perks, aside from unknowable salvation in the name of righteousness and all of that who’s-a-what’s-its. Thus, we each developed a serious itch to travel, often. I’m not entirely sure how a person grows up, willingly able to live in the same town as his/her childhood when he/she visits four of the seven continents before she can drive and checks off number five when she graduates from college. Obviously, it’s possible, I suppose; living forever in my hometown, however, it wasn’t probable for me. And so, here we are now, both my brother and I, living in two of the world’s largest cities on the other side of the world from where we were raised, a mere two hours away from each other by plane.
“Honestly, I think this is the closest we’ve lived to each other since you were in college and I was in high school,” I think aloud. Buzz. Buzz. “Who’s that?” I ask. “It’s Erica.” “Ah,” I wait for his attention to return to our conversation. “Well, but then you were only a three hours drive away when you transferred to Colorado, and I was living back home,” my brother corrects. “Yea, but that was only for a year; I think,” I add. “True,” my brother agrees. Buzz. Buzz. He returns to his phone. “You ready to eat?” I ask. I wait. “Yeup,” my brother half-responds while still attending to his phone. Buzz. Buzz.
We decide to go out to eat.
“Those shoulders on that coat,” my brother comments as we descend the stairs of the apartment building. “What is it with you and this coat?” I mock. “I don’t know,” he admits with a laugh. “I guess I just like it.” “On me or in general?” “Uh, yea, you can pull it off. It’s a bit manly though.” “Yea, that’s why I like it.” “Yea, it’s cool.” “But what?” He can’t seem to decide if he likes the coat or wants it. “Nothing. It’s cool.” ‘Yea, okay.”
We decide to go to an outdoor market.
“I mean, she’s just really amazing.” “Is this the same girl? The same girl you were talking about the first time you visited?” I clarify. “Yea,” he admits. “So, you worked everything out cause you wanted to, not because you had to?” I probe. “Yea, she’s totally worth it. We’re so similar, and we realized that things might just get tense sometimes if we both don’t change in some ways,” my brother explains. “I see,” I sneer. Buzz. Buzz. “Hey, I gotta take a pic for Erica,” he distracts. “Hey, take my picture for Erica,” he requests. Buzz. Buzz. “She likes it,” he smiles into his phone. Buzz. Buzz. “Hey check out this pic of Erica,” he suggestively demands.
I return to the apartment after running a quick errand or taking the trash out; I can’t remember such mundane specifics at this point.
“What are you doing?” I ask as my brother stands in front of our only full-length mirror, wearing the coat of mine that he can’t stop blabbing about. “I wanted to show Erica,” he half-heartedly admits. “Why? It’s my coat,” I remark, slightly taken aback by the situation, wondering why he didn’t send her a pic of me in the coat. “Yea, but I wanted to see if it looks good on me,” he openly admits. Buzz. Buzz. “Uh, huh,” I respond. “Nah,” he states half disappointed. Buzz. Buzz. “She says I can’t pull it off; it’s too boxy,” he says, still staring into his phone. “Uh, okay, but don’t you like it?” I ask. “Nah, I don’t like it,” he flips.
Names have been changed due to the nonfiction genre of the piece.