the play that i attended last night has had me thinking about the relationships in my own life. more importantly, i often think about my relationship with my sister, and how it has evolved and continues to change every day. growing up, we really weren't that close. she is over five years older than i am, so we really didn't have common interests as kids. (though she did influence me musically so we did share that bond). and it really wasn't until i reached adulthood that the our relationship changed and we actually became friends. now, i can see how our relationship has changed once again. sure i wish we were close like we once were twelve years ago, but our live are very different now. the things that we both once enjoyed doing together are no longer the same. and that is simply something that i have learned to accept. much like my relationship with my parents and their understanding of my sexuality.
i came across an article that my sister wrote some twelve years ago, when she was a copy editor for the local newspaper down in macon, georgia. and it brings me to tears each time i read it.
October 11, 1994
LITTLE BROTHER GROWS UP
now that it's beginning to feel like autumn, i find myself thinking about school (just like i did every fall for 16 years). More recently, my thoughts focus more and more on my little brother.
Well, I don't suppose I should call John little any more - he's at least 6 feet tall and a brand new freshman at the University of Gerogia. That's really startling.
There's this image seared on my brain of my brother when he was about 7: short, skinny, complete with missing teeth, mussed up hair and a mischievous glint in his eyes. It's hard sometimes to reconcile the young college student and the little boy I grew up with.
Suddenly I understand the shocked expression on the faces of relatives I saw only once or twice a year as a child. I know things change and grow while I'm not there to witness it, but I find my self thinking: Are you REALLY you? When did this happen?
But even stranger than that emotion is the way our relationship has evolved in the past year or so. Somewhere during that time we've advanced from the adversarial big sister/little brother
connection to an actual friendship.
I can't pinpoint when it happened, just as I can't say exactly when my parents became my friends instead of authority figures.
John's five years younger than I. When we were little, it didn't make much difference. We'd both wake up early on Christmas morning, check our stockings, then wake up Mom and Dad before checking under the tree. We repeated that ritual every year until we both knew the truth about Santa Claus. We liked catching lightning bugs in the summer and making snow angels in the occasional Stone Mountain ice storms.
Both those five years were a considerable gap once I moved into adolescence and left him in childhood. We weren't affected by the same issues; we didn't have the same concerns. We lost much of our common ground.
Once I went off to college, it seemed like every time I came home John was a different person. He gained three inches on me during the summer of 1991.
I guess it was during his senior year of high school that he first began to confide in me more, and I in him. When I'd come home for a weekend, we'd go to the mall or rent a movie, just like we'd do with our respective friends.
This past spring or summer I'm nor sure, I was home and pining to shop at the new mall in Alpharetta. To my surprise, John, not my mom, was the willing companion. Not only that, he drove. He patiently served as critic. Then, after tolerating being dragged all over the mall, he insisted on treating me to cappuccino. And over the steaming cups we sat and really talked about school, his getting ready for college, about life in general.
It was a really significant moment: On one hand, I had been looking forward to that time for almost as long as I'd waited from him to get tall enough for me to raid his closed. I'd always admired the close friendships friends enjoyed with their siblings.
On the other hand, we were talking about growing up and moving apart and the occasional yearning for the carefree days of childhood. We were close then because we lived under the same roof.
But we're close now because we want to be. So, I think about him in Athens, hanging out at placed I told him to go, studying and worrying about college things. I remember my breathless time of standing on the threshold of adult life. Then I remember how quiet it was at home with my parents about a month ago, my only trip there since John's been away.
I haven't yet been to visit him and to see how he and his roommate have customized their dorm room. But I plan to go soon.
And I hope it's another step in the process of getting to know each other outside of family parameters. Because I realize that I didn't lose a "baby brother." I just gained a lifelong friend I never realized I had.