|redfirecracker (redfirecracker) wrote,|
@ 2011-09-23 12:26:00
|Current music:||"Life Is A Highway" - Tom Cochrane|
|Entry tags:||family, musings, nostalgia, thinking, wtf|
I ACTUALLY DO HAVE A BROTHER, TECHNICALLY.
Today is my brother's birthday.
He's 41, just a little more than a year younger than I am, and yet there's a lot of people in my life now who don't even know that I have a brother.
We haven't spoken in more than fifteen years.
Nicky and I were always two drastically different people. I often say that we were cordially hostile from the time that we were old enough to understand what the concept meant. We never had anything in common and we just couldn't seem to talk to each other. He was an artist and a free spirit; I was bookish and rule-oriented. He was the center of everyone's attention, the life of the party; I was the wallflower and worked from the shadows. He could hold a grudge like nobody's business; I flared hot and bright and then forgot what I was angry about ten minutes later.
I was Daddy's girl and he was always Mom's favorite. He was the spoiled baby of the family and I was the responsible eldest child, held to the highest standards all our lives. We both played cello in orchestra, but he could play by ear and I couldn't even sight-read. I could use words to make you think the day was night, and he could never even remember i before e, except after c and always got bad marks on his papers for basic errors like that.
He's bipolar and most likely refuses to be medicated; I was formally diagnosed with moderate depressive disorder seven years ago and have been faithfully taking my meds and seeing my therapists ever since.
He went to prison for dealing drugs in 1994.
I won't even order a single drink with dinner if I'm going to be driving later that night, no matter how much time will be passing or how much food I'll be eating.
Was I a self-righteous little angel who looked down on my brother and everyone else for drinking and using? No, certainly not. I did my share of drinking and found out relatively quickly that I cannot handle my liquor. I'm Irish, it's built into our genes to like the stuff and not be able to metabolize it, I suspect. You know that saying, God made whiskey so the Irish couldn't take over the world? Yeah, there's the point I'm trying to make. Anyway, so I discovered I DO NOT LIKE HANGOVERS and I basically stopped drinking except for once in a great while. God, I still cringe when I think about the part of my ten-year high-school reunion that I actually remember. I was hungover for FOUR MISERABLE DAYS. Once a year I might tie one on from the safety of my living room.
I don't think my brother ever had a hangover in his life, and I once saw him drink his way through an entire case of beer over the course of an afternoon at a family picnic. No, seriously, I was watching . . . nobody else touched the stuff in that cooler but him. Probably because he was sitting on it. And still no hangover.
As far as anything else, I tried pot once or twice, but it never did anything for me and I hated the smell. Honestly, who decided that smoking something that smells like burning fingernail clippings was a good idea? YUCK. Somebody slipped me acid once and I hated that, too. I have control issues, I can admit this. I don't like anything that makes me feel out of control, and drugs in particular seem to have that effect.
Sometimes I wonder what attracted Nicky to drugs. Was he simply self-medicating the bipolar disorder? Or did he turn to them the way many alcoholics use drink . . . in order to make himself a different person? My Uncle Mike, who's been sober now for almost twenty years, once said that he started drinking because he didn't like himself. The booze, he said, made him feel tougher, stronger, braver. My brother was different when he was drinking-- more social, more outgoing, more expansive. Without a few beers in him, he was angry, withdrawn, and suspicious.
I don't remember any drastic personality changes around the time that he started getting heavily into drugs, but then again, I was spending as little time as possible at home. My dad was out of work and Mom was always stomping around mad about it without actually discussing it with him ( like he was just going to read her mind or something, seriously ), and I was working or at class or over at friends' houses or hell, hanging out in the fucking PARK as much as I could. Spent a lot of time curled up in the stacks in the PS section of English Lit at the campus library. Ha, back when I used to be able to sit on the floor without fucking up my back for three weeks.
After Nicky was released from prison on some kind of special intensive supervision program that meant some guy came to our house at all hours of the day and night for like a year, he and our dad got into a huge fight that somehow involved Mom as well. I'm not really sure on all the details, because I was in NYC visiting a friend for the weekend. All I know for sure is that Mom and Nicky cooked up some kind of lie between them and Dad found out that they'd lied to him. And, in the understatement of the year, he was NOT HAPPY. He threw Nicky out of the house, he and Mom were constantly at odds, and four months later, I fled and moved into my townhouse.
I stayed in touch with my brother for a while after that, but he was still so angry at our father-- and I'm talking about for stuff even that went back to childhood-- that eventually, he issued an ultimatum. Me or him, my brother said. You're either with me, or you're against me.
I don't do emotional blackmail, I said. You can call me back when you grow up. Have a nice life.
And that was it.
About five years later, I ran into him at the doctor's office that we unknowingly shared. I didn't know what to say to him, so I settled for a vague What's up?
That's all you have to say to me? he asked.
I shrugged. What else is there to say? You were the one who hung up on me.
The conversation didn't improve from there. It's funny how two people can remember the same incident in two entirely different ways.
We parted harshly, and that was the last time I saw or heard from my brother.
Other family members have reported running into him in the area. People we knew in high school ask after him all the time. He even has a Facebook account . . . but I haven't been able to bring myself to friend him, and he certainly hasn't friended me.
I still think about him, though.
I guess I always will.