Sunday, February 26, 2006

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother

For the past decade my brother and I have had a tenuous relationship at best. A lot of this has to do with his choice of partners unfortunately. Try as I might I have never been able to warm up to his wife, someone that I actually knew for seven years prior to their dating. They actually hooked up because of Jim and I but that is a story for another day. Since my father died almost three years ago and since the birth of my brother's third child, we have seen little of each other. We work opposite hours and we no longer share similar interests. We did meet for brunch a week or so ago after not seeing each other for a few months. It wasn't as awkward as I expected but not as comfortable as I had hoped.

Of course the conversation started to travel in the direction of addiction, etc and the moment that this started I attempted to stop it. He was about to go all self-righteous on me and I was not in the mood to entertain this, especially from someone who smokes a fatty every single day without fail whose wife is a falling down closet alcoholic. The one thing that I did manage to sqeeze in was my asking for an explanation as to the differance in my life to his. His answer? Responsibility. Excuse me?

OK yes I live in this 24ftx45ft apartment in a congested, downtown city but appropriate for me, I guess. Maybe I'm just habitually drawn to it. I walk, take the bus and drive from time to time. Taxis are for running late, and late nights. So I live a pretty low profile lifestyle. I go to work, pay my bills (eventually) and observe from a distance (frequently).

My brother, married with three children and newly chained to a mortgage in the suburbs, judging me at this junction of our lives. Please...How can you say something nice to a statement like this? What should I say? "Well, I'm not working 14 hours a day to maintain a too big house that always needs repairs, to make monthly debt and insurance payments on a car that loses value every minute, to buy a flat panel TV." What do you get out of it?

I do believe money can buy happiness. But happiness for me isn't necessarily a big house, car, or job title, offspring, STUFF to show for myself. Almost all of what I have is in my experience and growth, so it's hard for certain people to see my success. And sometimes hard for me to see it but I know deep down that it exists. At least I am fairly confident that it does.

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