Monday, August 27, 2007

the good times are killing me

I'm back from camping. I hardly know what to say. All I can think to say is this: having spent this time with my brother, I am now aware just how annoying I am, and for that I would like to apologize. For reasons I do not fully understand, he and I are a lot alike. Stunningly alike. Frighteningly alike. And only in ways that are annoying.

We both, for example, are uncontrollably compelled to read out loud the text of every road sign we pass. I never knew how annoying that was until this trip. We're also both so drawn into our own little fuzzy minds that we lose track of our surroundings and forget to try and participate in things like: chosing when and where to eat, helping pack and/or clean up the campsite, etc.

Watching him wander off while I was dismantling the tent this morning, I finally saw myself. I saw all the ways I dissociate when faced with something unfamiliar. I flashed back on all the times I became paralyzed when circumstances called for me to help with something foreign. And, in the context of watching him do it, I realized that the source is probably our shared father. Not his blood. His attitude. He seems like a nice enough guy, but he does like to make you feel stupid if you don't happen to know what you're doing. Combine that treatment with the booksmart, dreamy-mindedness that Alex and I share, and you end up with two kids who would just as soon wander off than offer to help.

Anyway, on that note, he is pretty useless. Camping was not something for which he displayed any natural proclivities. The tent was a mystery to him. The cooking was something he watched with bemused skepticism. He seemed to think I was crazy for even bothering and he ate good naturedly although it was obvious that he wasn't impressed. It, of course, didn't occur to him to say "hey, thanks for cooking and getting all this stuff together." SK -- any time I let you plan a whole outing and neglected to help or offer profuse thanks (have I ever been *that* bad??) I apologize hugely now.

He's not a bad kid, he's good. He's just dim. No, he's not dim at all, he's just socially stunted. How could he not be? It's a long story, I won't bother to tell it now, but he's led a sheltered life and now, at 25, he's more like a precocious 12 year-old than a full grown adult. Too cool to display any enthusiasm about anything, but always happy to make stupid wisecracks about everything he sees and very excited for you to know how many big words and obscure concepts he's familiar with.

I'd hoped we might get to know each other a little, but I'm learning that he keeps up quite a thick veneer of sarcasm and bullshit, it's like there isn't anybody in there to know. I know that's not true, because I do the same thing, but I like to think I do it a lot less now than I used to. At least I know where he's coming from. And as much as I'd like to tell him to shut the hell up every now and then (because even though he's flat, he's not always quiet) -- I am surprised to realize how much I actually love him. It's kind of shocking, but it's what keeps this from being the most miserable time of my life.


Blogger heather said...

seems like this has been an inadvertently enlightening visit for you. and frustrating as all get out. perspective is an interesting thing - i wonder what your brother's is, of his visit with you. i wonder if he is also seeing reflections of himself and what could be.

i'm glad you've seen *some* good out of his visit. :)

5:44 PM  

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