Thursday, June 19, 2008

Send my brother to Baghdad
Most people in Iraq are trying to get out. My brother is trying to get in.

I had lunch with him today and he told me of the friendships he'd struck up through the Adopt-a-Unit program. Regardless of your feelings (or mine) about the war, I think it's pretty cool of him to want to go. Actually, I'm jealous. I'd love to go myself but I look awful in a burka.

It was weird having lunch with my brother. In spite of my mother's delusional belief that we're The Waltons I find we're more like The Osbornes. (Or some other famously dysfunctional family. The Medicis? The Borgias?) OK, we've never poisoned anyone (and I can hear all those jokes about my mother's cooking) but we're still not all love and Hallmark. The brother I lunched with was estranged from our family for about 20 years. Nobody ever told me why. Now he's back. He's a pretty cool guy and I'm proud of him for being fire chief and all the other good stuff he does. It's just kind of strange to sit down with a relative stranger who is, in reality, a strange relative. (No, he's not strange I was just going for the interesting parallel construction.) I think I like him, though, which is good. I just hope we get to know each other better.

Sometimes I envy people who are really close with their family. I know The Lurker counts her sister as probably her best friend. And my friend H comes from a truly remarkable family that genuinely love and like each other. In my family....uh....not so much. Despite being the youngest of five I feel, in many ways, like an only child. An only child who kinda raised herself. By the time I came around (as one of those notorious Catholic accidents), my folks were pretty much over with being parents and spent a large chunk of my childhood going off on their own for weekend trips. My eldest sister and my eternally crabby grandmother would watch over me, but mostly I read and took care of myself. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't neglected -- just kinda not noticed.

It worked out in my favor in many ways. I'm more independent and stronger than my sisters and it made me really enjoy my own company. But when my four siblings get together it's like listening to an entire different family talk. I don't share their memories. I don't have the same stories in my history. They recall names that are unfamiliar to me and reminisce about times before I was born. On the flip side I have memories that no one shares. It makes for a sense of detachment when I'm around them. I feel duty but I'm not always sure I feel love. (This is beginning to sound like the summary of a Chick Lit book. I see myself in a cartoon sketch, on a pink cover, walking a white poodle.)

No comments: