Being around people who know me really well is comforting, like wearing a well-loved hoodie or drinking hot tea on a cold day cuddled under a blanket inside. Being around people who make me really happy fills me with a sense of effervescence. Like my whole body is a terrible metaphor for champagne- full of laughter and light.
Spending time with my brother is both of these things.
Siblings know each other in a way that no one else in the world does. Mike and I are extremely different people, yet also eerily similar. I like rules and control, planning what I’m doing for the next five years. He likes spontaneity and prefers not planning even what he’s doing the next day. I’m a huge nerd, spending my free time reading fantasy books, playing board and roleplaying games. He (fondly) teases me for my nerddom, preferring going out with friends or just chilling out and talking. I can’t stand being idle, he loves having nothing to do.
But then we somehow have the same worldview, the same sense of humor. We know exactly what the other is talking about when we can’t remember a word or phrase or person’s name, with very little context. We have crazy inside jokes that make each other break into uncontrollable laughter with just a word or a look. My future in-laws recently commented that we were practically twins.
We have the best conversations. We once ate lunch at Chipotle while talking about whether or not math exists. We contemplate the fundamental nature of existence in one breath and make fart jokes in the next. Once, we had an entire phone conversation speaking entirely in sound effects without using any words. Going on family vacations when we’d share a room meant silly conversations until late in the morning where we’d laugh so hard we couldn’t breathe.
Just being around him makes me unbelievably, ridiculously happy. My brother is the funniest person I know. Laughter comes easily to him and he brings it to others even more quickly. Often our family gatherings without him feel plain and boring. There’s an energy they lack that he never fails to bring. He isn’t afraid to bring humor to ANY topic. There’s nothing that fazes him, whether gross, disturbing, or taboo. He lets you view the world more lightly by questioning everything- and laughing about it.
We always have each other’s backs. When we were kids, we would always play Super Smash Brothers on our N64 with my cousins (also a brother and sister). Without ever talking about it, we would team up, destroying them first before having to fight each other. This strategy would work every time. They got so frustrated with us for doing this, but it never occurred to us to turn on each other.
Of course, that doesn’t mean we don’t fight. The most intense fights I have are with my brother. But we don’t hold grudges. My favorite description of our relationship is a time I was visiting home from grad school and he from college. We had the most intense bitter argument about something stupid- I wanted to join him in running this errand and he didn’t want me to come. It ended with me stomping out of the room and going to my own, slamming the door behind me. Not two minutes later, my brother knocks on my door and asks if I want to come on the errand with him. I say yes, get in his Jeep, and we head out, having a great time on the way- previous anger completely dissipated.
I am unbelievably proud of my brother. He’s living in China right now, teaching English to children. He’s been there for a year already and plans to stay at least another year. It takes incredible courage to leave everything that’s familiar to you to go to a foreign country where very few people even speak your language.
But I also miss him like crazy. He was just in town visiting for about a month and it was such an amazing time. Sometimes I forget just how much I love my brother until he’s here hanging out with me. And when he’s here, I forget just how much I miss him when he’s away.
This one’s for you, bro! Keep living it up in China, being awesome, and visiting your boring sister here in Ohio ❤