My cell phone rang at about 7am yesterday morning. The caller ID told me it was younger slackbrother j., who I was picking up at 8:30am to drive to LAX so he could fly home for his ten year reunion.
Hey, are you up? he asked.
I am now, I replied.
The day before, j. had come over to pick up some laundry that he had left here (I didn't do it for him! It was from the previous weekend!) and have me trim up his mohawk. As I operated the clippers, we talked about his high school classmates and how to talk to girls.
You realize, I said to him a few minutes into our conversation, that we were doing the exact same thing 15 years ago? Once we were done with his hair, I kicked him out of the house. I have a date tonight, I told j.
Oooh! What are you doing?
He's not feeling well, so he's just coming over and we're gonna watch Logan's Run.
j. laughed and left.
I fought to keep my eyes open. I'm still picking you up at 8:30, yes?
I'm up, so I thought I'd just come over there, he said.
He paused. I was going to get coffee.
Coffee is good. Get coffee. A nonfat vanilla latte for me.
It's just that...he trailed off.
Should I get two or three coffees?
Why would you get three coffees? I asked, confused. Daisy doesn't drink coffee.
No, in case...
In case Mr. Logan's Run was still there.
It was only going to be the second time we hung out!
I didn't know whether I should be horrified that my baby brother thought I put out on the second date* or pleased that he called in case I had.
Younger slackbrother j. and I have an odd history. He's six years younger than I am. I used to refer to him as my sort-of kid. I changed diapers and dragged him around on my hip. When he got older, I played Cool Older Sister. I took him out for lunches where we'd smoke Camel Lights and I encouraged his interest in punk rock and gave him a mohawk and drove him and his litttle skater friends around.
When he moved out to LA and in with me, we fell back into those roles, but they didn't operate so smoothly as adults. He still acted like a little kid but I couldn't stop acting like a parent. I had had a relatively easy time living with Older Slackbrother J., who I hadn't gotten along with at all growing up. Younger slackbrother j. and I, who had been so close, fought. A lot. It wasn't an easy time for either of us.
I moved in with A., and j. moved in with a roommate. He'd come by every so often, and one of those times we got into it.
Everyone treats me like a kid, he told me.
It's because you act like one, I replied. Mom and dad treat me like an adult because I act like one.
The argument went on. There were tears and accusations and confessions on both sides. And after that, things were different. In a good way. j. and I seemed to move past whatever it was that was dividing us. It was like he finally figured out how to stand on his own that day. And I figured out how to let him stand.
You still there? he asked.
Just two coffees, I said. And my date cancelled because he was sick.
I dragged myself out of bed and thought about how odd that my baby brother is going home to Chicago for his ten year high school reunion. Ten Years. I remember doing the j.-math: he would be entering junior high when I was finishing high school. He'd enter high school when I was in the thick of college. He'd graduate high school when I was out In The Real World.
My baby brother is All Grown Up.
This morning my cell rang at 7:21am. I fumbled for it. It was younger slackbrother j.
Hello? I croaked.
Did I wake you? he asked.
It's not even 7:30.
Oh, that's right, he replied. I forgot that it's earlier there.
Sure, he's all grown up, but some things just never change.
Happy 10-year High School Reunion, younger slackbrother j. and Glenbard West Class of '96. Hope yours is as eye-opening as mine was.
*not that there's anything wrong with that.