Tag: siblings

Dunno, family stuff keep piling up against my night.

Mill Valley exit

About a year ago I looked for a brother of mine online. A brother I’ve never met. A brother who (used to be) estranged from my biological father but who I’ve wanted to know more about. I found someone with his name on facebook. I “friended” him. Sent a message something like this “I think you might be my half brother but if you’re not Adam Szydel’s son, just ignore me” and I never heard back.

Until the week before last when he “friended” me back and confirmed he’s my half brother and said, breezily, that we’ll have to find time to chat at some point.

I constantly feel my family life has an element of surreality. My whole brother, unacknowledged by our mutual father, is such a brilliant artist his work sometimes makes me want to cry but we rarely talk, he’s not a family guy so much. He loves me in an abstract way and I have always loved him viscerally and unconditionally. Still, I don’t call him very often. So who the hell is not the family person?

Turns out my half brother (the one I’ve never met) is a professional photographer. So now I wish to god I could get Zeke and Orion together because Zeke should be a professional photographer.

What the fuck does any of this matter? Brothers don’t really care that much about sisters. Not the way sisters care about each other. Except that my mother’s sister doesn’t give a shit about my mother the way I give a shit about mine.

My mom is going into surgery in less than two weeks and I’m scared. It’s been exactly a year since she was in the hospital fighting for her life. This time my sister won’t be here. My brother probably won’t be here either. Neither of them can afford it, aside from any other considerations. If I had a million dollars I’d fly them both out.

I’d make a great matriarch if I could afford to, you know, take care of everyone.

I don’t want my mother to die. I love her so much.

This is the first time I’m admitting to myself how terrified I am.  How I have so much family and yet so little. What the fuck difference does having family make if they’re never around, if you don’t know half of them, or half of them don’t give a fuck about you?* While my mom was fighting for her life her sister was insisting on selling her only security. Fucking bitch.

Don’t really have faith in family. Yet I love my sister and would house her with my last penny if she needed it, would do the same for my brother, for my dad (the step), for Philip’s brother, for Philip’s father, for my cousins (even though they wouldn’t likely do the same for me). If my two half brothers, almost complete strangers to me, needed my help I’d do what I could for them.

Goddamn it. If my biological asshole father who I’ve disowned was facing homelessness I’d house him too. Fucking careless seed-spreader who doesn’t recognize his own image in my brother**. God, if I could get him to take a paternity test I have 100% confidence in the results.

Old records. Old tunes. Old tropes.

*Not talking about Zeke or Tara.

**The one he spawned just before divorcing my mom to marry my first half brother’s mother.

The Week My Siblings Visited Us (At the same time!)

My brother Ezekiel and my sister Tara rarely visit us at the same time.  This Thanksgiving they both came up and we had the best time.  My siblings are way cooler than me, more fashionable, funnier, and so different from me sometimes that I wonder how we managed to all have the same mom.  I say we’re so different but the truth is that the differences are more remarkable than our sameness only because they’re louder, they certainly aren’t more numerous.  Our perceptions of the world may vary wildly, the things we find comfort in and enjoy may be different, but at the core we are all very similar.

Max only gets to see his aunt once a year and his uncle once every five years.  It makes me sad because our family is so small already.  It did my heart good to see Max bantering with his aunt and uncle on a really long ride home from Portland in the back seat of the car.  It also confirmed what I’ve always suspected – that my son is like a carbon copy of my brother in temperament and tastes.  Tara noticed this too.

We made a stop at Trader Joe’s and it was hilarious to listen to my brother lecturing Max on how to notice that the display of tapenade looked like vomit more quietly so as not to distress other customers.  He was getting all adult on my kid.  A guy who never gives a shit what others think!  Very funny stuff.  He also worked on Max’s language by asserting that “douche bag” is not an appropriate thing to call anyone and suggested instead that Max say “Delta Bravo” to mean the same thing.  My brother who swears all the time… !!

We ate a non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner: mushroom pot pies, chili lime roasted tofu with winter squash, and a salad of lettuce, walnuts, dried sour cherries, and feta.  We ate at 7pm like rational people rather than at 4pm like totally crazy people.  We watched episodes of Saturday Night Live and drank lots of wine and beer.

This is the accident that made our car trip home endless.  I wasn’t sorry about it.  It gave Max extra time to chat between his aunt and uncle.

This is my all time favorite picture of my brother and sister.  I doubt it will be theirs.  I love it because this is really how they are at their best moments.  They go out in the world and talk to people and have lively conversations and crack up and are generally so honest and funny that people love them.  How could you not?  They bicker with each other a lot, I think because my sister has this kindness in her that wants to adjust the world to take away hurt and hunger and loneliness while my brother is a curmudgeon who tells things like he sees them and often it’s not the kind view but the stark view.  But at the core they are very similar.  My sister works with stark harsh reality in her job every single day and my brother does truly have a good heart – so even though they bicker they actually aren’t dissimilar.  They come at the world from opposite corners but their spirits come from a similar origin.  I didn’t mean to write a treatise on them but I love them both so much and this picture reveals the light in both of them for me.

I’ve been meaning to write posts nearly every day for the past week but the words wouldn’t come.  I’ve been on a roller coaster ride lately between really good days and truly foul days.  There are so many weighty issues on my mind that I want to write about but the thought of figuring out how to frame them, where to start, how to shape them… it has felt too overwhelming so I close up my dashboard for the day and try again the next day with the same results.  I have parenting things to discuss, politics, food politics, mental health issues, and questions of philosophy that have been consuming my head.

It will all come out eventually in one way or another.