Hey there, big brother. I heard it’s your birthday today. As in, the day you graced us with your presence. The day you emerged soggy and sobbing into this unfair universe, with the best intentions, the biggest dreams and hopes and a real nice head of hair.
Trying to figure out how old you are these days (since my memory is already failing), I took out my fingers and thought, “What’s six and a half years older than me?” I started with me, twenty-three, and counted up. Twenty-four, twenty-five, twenty-six… I lost track around there. Unlike you, Math was never my strong suit. Though we both seem to have an affinity for the written word, for which I am deeply grateful. (Gives us something to gloat about over our father with a PhD in Physics.)
Then Ryan reminded me that this birthday was your big one. Or, one of the big ones. It’s your thirtieth. It made me think, “I remember his twentieth. That was a good time.” You’d moved out of the house and were all on your own, making a big sink in the world. I’ll admit, I don’t remember your tenth birthday because I was a self-absorbed four-year-old then, not doing much besides pooping, stealing your Halloween candy, and bathing in buckets out back.
Speaking of that Halloween candy–sorry, dude. You came downstairs and there was nothing but wrappers, the body bags of two pounds of chocolate and caramel and jolly ranchers, all demolished like an old brothel on Main street. Though you did have a really sweet wall mural. Where the Wild Things Are has always been your theme song (I realize it’s a book, but please, just let me keep my metaphors).
So thirty years later, I hope you know your sister has always looked up to you. Doing donuts in your white Mitsubishi Spyder (man, I thought you were such a badass), having parties late at night in your bedroom (and letting me in), dating Jessica Biel even if it was only for a few weeks (pre-Seventh Heaven)–I’ve had a lot to live up to. And your friends were always cooler than mine. Sometimes you even let me borrow them.
Anyway, here’s to the guy who wasn’t too cool but was just cool enough to spend time with his little sister growing up. Who didn’t make her cry unless she really deserved it (yeah, plenty of those), who watched her back when she dated sketchy boys and went off to college, who drove her to the mall when she was a whiny teeny-bopper and didn’t bitch or moan once about it.
I won’t forget your good deeds, brother. And I hope you have a kickass thirtieth birthday, from me to you.