Behold, the X and the Y. My Mama and my Papa. Pretty hip, eh! I'm sure they will have a few choice words for me if (when) they see that I have posted this photo of them for the whole world to see. Sorry you two, but it really was necessary. Not to mention, you really should be proud of all that luscious hair!
Family is a weird, weird thing. Especially when you have several to deal with. Those two smiling faces up there have been divorced for well over 20 years now. My multiple families have always been a constant source of frustration as well as joy, which I am sure is the case for just about everyone that comes from a divorced household. I'm certain we also share many of the same frustrations. Too much time. Not enough time. Not enough effort. Too far away. Obligations that pull you in opposite directions. Always having to be the tireless cheerleader, even when you know the game is over and your team has lost. You know the drill, typical family stuff. And really, the good does outweigh the bad. That being said, there are those times that really leave you scratching your head. Those times when you look at a picture and say "O.k, I get you, and I get you, but where the hell did we come from!" The "we" being my brother and I. More on him in a second.
If you met my parents you would really have a hard time believing they were ever a couple. I'm sure that at some point they had something in common. Probably their penchant for big hair and funny smelling cigarettes. The 70's and 80's did strange things to people, I guess. But in the here and now, two people couldn't be any more different. It is this dramatic difference between the two that has always puzzled me. Because, just as they are nothing alike, such is the case with my brother and I. Not only are we nothing like each other, we are also incredibly different from our parents. We are cut from the same cloth, but at the same time, so strikingly different that it's amazing we grew up under the same roof. How can people spend that much time together and be so different.
Obviously, we do share a few things, those things that all brothers with the same blood share. Those little quirks that parents pass on, both good and bad. You can thank our Mom for our subconscious need to remove our shoes and wade around in any body of water we are near; also for our ability to procrastinate, even in extreme circumstance. You can thank our Dad for our appreciation of male grooming products and having shoes for any occasion. You can also thank him for our cockiness and ability to make anything a competition. Other than that, we are day and night. They say it's healthy when you acknowledge you faults as well your strengths. Maybe he can do the same. Here is to hope, brother.
I say that because it's what people say when they run out of ideas of how to help someone. Really though, I have kind of given up of the idea of hope.
A friend recently asked me about my childhood and how I turned out the way I did. She asked why I decided to move away from Michigan. She asked how I ended up looking the way I do. Liking the art, music, food, books, etc that I do. All the things that are so different from everyone else in my family, especially Justin (that's my bro). Being out of step is something I have always been aware of, but never really dug into the origins of the how and the why. What was the catalyst that (mostly) kept me out of trouble. What was it that prevented me me from choosing the narrow paths that are the only options to many people living in small mid-western towns. Work your way up on the production floor, or work your way back down to the jail. Without even thinking, I answered her.
A skateboard. That's why. That's the difference.
It may seem stupid, but skateboarding saved my life. It really was that thing that opened me up to everything I hold dear to me now. The first time I got my hands on a Thrasher magazine I knew what I wanted. I wanted to listen to the music they listened to. I wanted to make art like they made. I wanted to go to the places where these people were. So I did. Then It snowballed. Skateboarding turned into Rock and Roll. Rock and Roll led me to the love of my life. The love of my life made 2 amazing boys. My life is pretty damn good.
Wondering why he didn't follow me keeps me up a lot. Maybe I should have let him tag along more. Maybe I should have spoken up when I knew he was making a bad decision. But we were kids, what the fuck did we know. He thought I was a jerk and I thought he was a brat, and that's how we did it.
And now we don't speak. And it sucks.
So, I have taken to casting words into thin air. Maybe, in the hope that somehow he catches wind of what it is that his big brother does with his time. Maybe, someone will tell him that they saw his name on the internet (somewhere other than a non government owned site). Maybe then I could tell him he is important and to stop fucking around and treating his life as though it's not worth anything. I could tell him that it is a privilege to be a father and to not take it for granted. At the very least, he could give me a good address so I can send my niece a skateboard. Because, unless he makes some serious changes, it's the only chance she's got.
Here's to maybe, brother.