A Brother Sometimes Knows

Of all people to come and search me out when I’d left my family, I would’ve least expected my brother. I got a call one day. It was a Saturday when my ex brother-in-law was helping lay carpet in the livingroom. I told my brother and he offered to come finish the job and help us move furniture around.

I was surprised he kept it cool and didn’t talk to me about the family. In fact the next week he invited me out to dinner with some of his friends and his girlfriend.  We went to a restaurant downtown on the pier. It was very fancy. I was so impressed the maitre de referred to my brother as Dr. Baraban. But it was clear he was focused on not spending much money. He said things like, “Oh I think I’ll just get an appetizer”. “I’ll just take the tap water”.

My brothers girlfriend was instantly angry when she met me. I felt the same way. She was very boyish in a way. Her name was Joanna. We shook hands and that began the war. We didn’t mesh and as it turns out she didn’t mesh with my brother either.

My brother has been married and divorced 3 times. My shrink said something very profound. “Most people go into therapy. Your brother keeps getting married”. My brother is 72 and is currently living with his girlfriend, though I suspect they got married and didn’t tell me.

My brother never liked to spend money. When I have money I spend it. When he has it he saves it. So of course I robbed his piggy bank when we were kids. I always felt guilty, but not that guilty.

When he was 13 I was 20, so we didn’t cross paths much. If we’d been closer in age I doubt we would’ve hung out. I was very social and he was very quiet. He was a “know it all” and I was a curious seeker of new experiences. Yet our bond and reason for being brother and sister came clear to me much later.

It’s amazing to me how he broke the spell of my estrangement with my family. Not long after the experience of dinner with his girlfriend, Don and I saw my parents. I was very happy to see them.  Don, in his way, made it a very friendly and good experience. It was his first time meeting them. I was nervous they were going to be very angry at me, but they weren’t.  I told them about my divorce from my first husband, whom they hated anyway. I also told them about my abortion, which upset my mother very much.  Luckily Don took over here and there with jokes. Thank goodness.

Today I talk to my brother every day, and we are close. I can tell him anything really, but I know there are still parameters of what I can or can’t tell him. Like my drug business. Or my time in the circus. Or my boyfriends. All seven of them.

Just kidding. Maybe.

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