Growing up, Drew, my younger brother, and I fought. Not fought like the bickering that all siblings do, but real, not-very-nice arguing and disrespecting each other. In my mind, I was the older (somewhat more “responsible”…note, I did say this was in my mind) sister, and he was the crybaby, gets-everything-he-wants baby brother (we’re only 4.5 years apart, actually). More than anything, though, we just had very very little in common. I was bookish/academically oriented (ok, geeky), extroverted (yeah, that made me popular alright.. a geek who wants to hang out with everyone
else), and not at all interested in being outdoors or sports or cars. Drew, OTOH, was introverted, athletic, “outdoorsy”, not much interested in reading or books, and loved cars.
I am my daddy’s girl, and we’re frighteningly similar at times, while Drew is just like Mom, of course. Mom and Dad split when we were 14 and 10, and given the disparity of their personalities, it wasn’t (in retrospect, at any rate) all that surprising.
As I got older, I “loosened up” a bit, and Drew grew up and got a job and had many of the same responsibilities as I did. We still didn’t connect, though. We’d see each other, exchange notes on who saw which parent last and what they’d done/said, and then sit, staring at one another, with nothing else much to say until we made some excuse to be somewhere else. The acrimony of our childhood had been replaced by indifference. I loved him (I will always love him, no matter what, ’cause he’s my brother), but we had no structure for our relationship other than the bonds of kinship.
What’s weird in our case is that there was one evening that was a turning point; a distinct fulcrum around which our relationship rotated. It was 1998ish, and I was very close friends with a guy named Dave, who was, in many ways, between us on the spectrum. He was a “car guy” and was a mechanic for a while, yet was also a computer geek. He was a little obsessive and “stressy” like me about details; yet was “coooooooool” and laid back (like Drew) in conversations and one-on-one.
One of the few things that Drew and I had discovered we both liked was the Beatles, and when the Beatles Yellow Submarine was released to theaters again, I asked Dave and Meghan (another close friend) to get pizza and see it with me. On a whim I called Drew and invited him too, not knowing if he’d consider hanging out with his “not-cool” sister or if he did, what we’d say to each other.
To make a long (sorry) story a lot shorter, that evening everything changed. Drew showed up and we did our “So have you talked to Mom recently” thing and ….
I told Dave that Drew was restoring an old car (a big American Boatmobile, I think I called it). Conversation!!! Then Dave made a joke about about a movie that we’d all seen — more conversation!!!
And that night I saw my brother as someone other than “my baby brother.” He became a real 3-D person, whom I could relate to outside of the family relationship, even if we still didn’t have a lot in common. During the course of one evening of conversation, he figured out that I wasn’t nearly as “geeky” as he thought (hey! I have cool friends who restore cars too!), while and I realized that he wasn’t the little tattletale who always got his way (not, mind you, that he ever really was… it was
just my perception).
We’ve talked about it since and I think we’re both more than a little amazed that somehow we got past 30 years of attitude/indifference. I know my mom is perplexed by it. Maybe it was the beer or maybe it was the “bridgers” (Dave and Meghan), but since that night, we’ve been friends. He is a different person now (as am I), and it just took that one night for me to really “see” it.