My baby brother turned 25 this week. We went to his birthday party on Saturday to celebrate with my family. At some point during the festivities, the boys and I took a walk around the back of my brother’s property, walking up the road to the top of the hill.
With the snow melted and spring trying to make its way into the land, the fallen branches from a long, hard winter littered the trail. The boys decided to work together and clear the large branches out of the way for their uncle, happily lugging and tugging and tossing sticks and limbs and even small logs off the trail and into the woods.
My brother and I don’t really have any memories of traipsing about the woods together. I have very specific memories of hanging out in the woods by myself and later with teenage friends, but none really with my brother. I do remember the time we took a walk down by the creek with my mom when my brother was around two-years-old. He went to throw a big rock in the creek. It hit me in the temple instead; I still swear he did it on purpose.
We weren’t always close. Eight years quantifies and qualifies as a pretty decent age gap. By the time he was old enough to play, I was slamming into preteendom and wanted nothing more than to be alone with my music and my notebooks. He just wanted to be with me, standing outside my bedroom with his toe crossing the line into my room to torment me. I would scream, “MOOOOOOOM! HE’S BOTHERING ME!” And he was, of course, but I see it for what it was now—hindsight being what it is. He just wanted to spend time with me. And then I left when he was ten, for college and the path toward the life that I now live.
Sometimes he’s still a ten-year-old gangly looking boy in my head instead of a tall, broad-shouldered working man, husband, and father. It blows my mind sometimes, when I watch him holding his baby boy as he flips hamburgers on the grill.
The boys cleared sticks all the way to the top of the hill before racing back down the other side. I know that their close-in-age proximity isn’t a guarantee they’ll be friends when they grow up, but I enjoy watching them now as they work and play and laugh and argue and do everything together. I also like getting to know my brother as an adult and as a friend.