Saturday, June 03, 2006

A Rose by any Other Name

This is a post about my brother.

You see, I realized a while back that he didn't know about this blog, but thought he'd enjoy seeing me in this setting, so I decided I should send him a couple links... but I got caught-up in work and whatnot, and didn't get around to it until a day or two back... and that's when it hit me: I don't think I've ever mention him here.

It's not strange, really: I live in a small universe of family, friends, loved-ones, and pretenders... so I couldn't possibly be expected to mention everyone. But he's my brother... and you'd think he'd come up more often. But that's just it: as much as I love and respect him, our planets swing wide of each other... We're Saturn and Jupiter: coming into each other's lives infrequently but not insignificantly.


But now that he's here... what shall we call him? The Crow's Nest is nony-less, so he definitely needs a nick. Sure, my sister T is just "T"... but that wouldn't do for him. Nope: he needs a full-on handle.

So I call T, and ask if he had any nicknames growing up.

[ Pregnant Pause ]

"I don't think so."

We laugh.

"Why don't you call mom?"

"Okay... I'll call you back with the scoop!"

[ Hang-up ]

[ Dial Mom ]

"Hey mom... "

[ Pops the Question ]

Mom then proceeds to give me a nickname that I'm pretty certain had never seen the light of day until that very moment. Mom's funny that way.

"Why do you want to know?"

"Just curious... T and I were talking and we couldn't remember if he ever had a nickname..."

Mom said something and I returned: "Well, he was always grown up."

"That's not true! Why he had asthma when he was a kid and he decided to join track ( "Track?!" T would later exclaim "He was never in track!" "Yes, he was... I remember the pictures, and thinking how cool it was that he was in track..." "Oh. I don't remember any of that..." ) and he would come in last during every race... and I asked him why he stuck with it, and he told me that 'someone has to come in last and it might as well be me...'."

[ Pause ]

"Mom: that's the definition of being grown-up."

[ Pause ]

"A'ight, mom, I've gotta jet... and you're driving... talk to you later, love you!"

So yeah: no childhood nicknames to speak of.

Of course, I could mine our lives for something...

I don't know how your mind works, but mine is filled with two types of memories: the crystal-clear snapshots/videos of moments or recordings of things said; and then the vague collections of sentiments ( "I don't remember what happened, but I remember feeling... " ).

Of the latter sort, I "remember" how much I looked up to him growing up, and feared him... not the fear you have of an enemy, but the fear you have of a parent or an authority figure: he was the Hand of God ( T, by comparison, was always the tender embrace of a savior — when she wasn't pushing me down stairs ). I also "remember" how much I stood in awe of him. I "remember" how much I bragged about him to my friends. I "remember" thinking how brave he was — that he was the paragon of manhood.

Of the former sort, I have maybe a dozen memories from my childhood: a winter ( back when it actually use to snow ), when he built a "pillow" of snow that we all jumped into from our second-story deck; he and his friend teasing me as I tried frantically to get a pre-pubescent itch in my shorts taken care of; him playing catch with me in the backyard and me wincing, closing my eyes, and squealing when the ball hit me... and him saying that I'd do better if I opened my eyes, with me replying that I'd open my eyes if he'd stop throwing things at me; him "stress testing" my Lego creations and then teaching me about sound building processes, until — once mastered — I could barely get them apart when I wanted to; him out in the back yard, chopping the heads off of scores of chickens, with the occasional one running about ( lurp! lurp! lurp! ) without its head — leaving a trail of blood in circles behind it on the lawn; him teaching me the difference between being "scared" and being "startled" — and that men got "startled"; playing hide-and-seek with him ( oft-times without his actually knowing ) by hiding in the middle shelf of the linen closet, or on the top bunk under a sheet and practicing breathing without moving my chest; and, finally, a wonderful road trip when he drove me from Spokane to Pasadena to see T... with lunch at a hat-shaped A&W on a bluff overlooking the Columbia River Gorge, a stop to take a picture of a sign declaring that we had just passed the half-way point between the North Pole and the Equator, waking-up in the middle of the night in a blizzard in a forest and him telling me that he thought it would be cool to show me Crater Lake but that he hadn't expected the late spring storm, driving through the wasteland of Klamath Falls, and then dropping into Sacramento Valley and seeing the smog and thinking we must be really close to Los Angeles.

( Okay, I take it back: I apparently have more memories than I thought... they just needed a little prodding. But I'll stop here, as I'm considerate of my audience. )

But someone is not just a tangle of memories — sweet, sour, and occasionally just-plain-odd ) — they're also the echoes of those memories: the tug-and-pull they have on you when they're nowhere to be seen. My brother is no different... he's the voice in my head urging me beyond mediocrity... my cupid when I first fell in-love with computers ( though his love was always computers-as-puzzles, and mine was always computers-as-tools ). In fact, I credit him as a very real contributor to my current life as a former software company co-founder, and now a computer-aided designer.

So this brings me back to the beginning... what shall we call him?

Flash? Jupiter? Coach? Jove? ... Nah.

I think I'll keep it simple...

"Brother" ... with a capital "B".

So welcome to my blog, Brother!


A. Nonny Mouse said...

The Crow's Nest is nony-less

It may be nony-less, but it's certainly not Nonny-less!

Silus Grok said...

Har har.

Thank, a.nonny mouse.


I thought of you when I wrote that!

Stenar said...

Cool post. Nice memories, sort of. ;)

Silus Grok said...