Monday, October 1, 2012

My Mansh, Part 2 or That's Them

  Even though we did not all grow up in the same house, and some of us have different parent combos, hair texture and eye color, I'm pretty sure that if all the ten kids in my family were standing, separately, on this crowded platform, you'd be able to pick us out. It has less to do with us looking alike, although some of us do, or sounding alike, most of us have an odd, slow and winding cadence, than it has to do with... well I'm not sure what it is, a sort of aloneness maybe, a simultaneous connectedness and disconnectedness. I can't explain it and yet I think that if you were an FBI agent and you looked at the photo above and were able to hone in on each individual, you could say: There, there and there, etc. That's them.

  My brother Pete and I are the closest in age, 11 months apart. Like twins, it sometimes felt like I was with him when he was having certain experiences even though I wasn't. A few memories, a few of his memories that have nothing to do with me, are my memories. Like the time he was throwing snowballs at cars with his friend David and one of the drivers pulled over and chased them both through the woods where they had to hide, separately, for over an hour. Or the time he got into a fight with Don Neiman and was sitting on top of him punching him in the face when Don's Dad came out and instead of yelling at Pete, started cheering him on. Still, my feeling that I was there with him probably has less to do with us being Irish twins than it has to do with the way someone's repeated telling of a story winds its way into your head and becomes your own.

  Growing up I had always focused on the differences between us. He was cheerful and a hard worker. I was angry and critical of everything. He was hyper and excited, I was lethargic and irritated. Of course this wasn't the case every day, but in general Pete appeared to be the well-adjusted one. (although you'd think beating up neighbors and throwing snowballs at cars might have told me something) I lived in my head and dreamed of all the things I wished I had, things that would surely make my life better, while Pete was perfectly happy where he was. This is what I thought.

Until recently.

We were talking about the old mansion behind my mom's house, and I told him about how I used to walk all the way through the woods every morning just so I could catch the bus from there and have people "see" me. If "they" had really been paying attention they would have seen that I didn't exit from the driveway but actually from the neighboring property. (I was too scared to actually step on the mansion driveway). I thought Pete might have something to say about what a big phony I was, how sad, something like that. But instead he said, I used to have my friend's parents drive into the driveway and I'd walk up to the door and give the "All good!" wave, and then I'd have to wait like that until they drove off.

I could have been shocked and laughed. I could have asked for more details and asked "oh my God, how did you have the nerve to do that?" type of questions, but instead I just looked at him and raised my eyebrows and thought of one word: There.

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