I am the youngest of four children, with two sisters and one brother, all growing up in and around Boston, Massachusetts. My sister Kait is the oldest at 32, my brother Kevin is 31, and my sister Kellie is 22. I have always connected with my sister Kait through academics. She was always a role model for my academic behavior and, although at times it was annoying and belittling, I would not be the student I am today without her pressure, and I owe her big time. Kellie is the closest to me in age and we love the same music, movies, theatre, and more. She now lives in California but every time we see each other we pick up right where we left off. She is pretty cool. And then there is Kevin.
I will be honest, growing up we never got along. It’s just a fact. He played video games and I did not. I liked school, and he hated it. Our mutual love for sports only went as far as we both played basketball. We rarely had those typical brotherly conversations about professional sports teams and who was going to make the playoffs. He tossed me around and beat me up to “make me tough,” which was not appreciated. But, so what? He is my big brother and we have different interests.
But that isn’t the whole story.
Throughout my adolescence, he constantly asked me about my sexuality. “Are you gay?” was asked almost every time we were together. It made me question many of the things I liked and I asked myself many times about what I was doing, and what Kevin would think. Being young and impressionable, it was not what I wanted to hear, and one of the major impacts was that I did end up giving up acting to play sports for awhile. Now, there was more than one deciding factor in making the decision, and it was not solely because of what my brother thought, but I would be lying to myself if I said that he didn’t play a part. He never appreciated what I found interesting, and my reaction was to shut him out. I found myself trying to distance myself from him and the things he did. I would never talk about him, and my close friends would be surprised when I brought him up because they did not know or had just forgotten that I had an older brother. Not bringing him up was my way to mitigate his efforts to change who I was. When I spoke to him I would not say much. I would be rude and terse in most of our conversations. As I got older and realized I should not let him dictate what I did and didn’t do, we clashed more violently. We had tense conversations and went periods of time without speaking. I angered quickly with him and had a low tolerance for his jokes. I could tell him off, and beating me up was not as easy anymore. At one point I told him to never speak to me again. That may be dramatic, but it was because something he said finally angered me too much. I responded to his misunderstanding of who I was with hatred. I did not want to be friends and I did not want to talk. It was my turn to be the jerk.
With all the doom and gloom out of the way, we are still brothers. We never reached a breaking point. The bond between us never severed. There has always been something extra, something pushing us close, and we push back at it. It would be easy to just say that we are brothers and we are still talking because we are family, but I do not buy that. When I first started thinking about it, I did not understand it. There is so much “bad” to point to, conflict to discuss, and unresolved issues. What was keeping us cordial and respectful? Why did we still care for each other in the face of so much bad? After a lot of thought, I knew there was more to us than we both had thought.
I’ve realized within the last two years we actually have tried to find what connects us and what defines our relationship, and over recent years, we definitely have changed. As we have gotten older and matured (him taking a little longer to mature than I), we have both looked back on our childhood together. There is not a ton of stuff to look back on and laugh. Looking back, we may have never gotten along, but it was not from the lack of trying. Kevin certainly did not give up trying to figure out who I was, and I admittedly came the closest to giving up. My version of not giving up was continuing to try to explain to him the things I liked, however I usually gave up trying after a while. To this day, we have constantly made an effort to try to strengthen our relationship. We have pushed and pulled on each other. Maybe not as much when we were younger, but more recently. It has not been easy, but lately, I have come to realize I will always to try to bridge the gap between us, and I do believe Kevin wants to as well. Do not count us out yet. We have gotten closer in the past couple of years, and with a little sister mediation from Kellie we have come to realize we truly care for each other. I hope one day we will find what connects us. This may never happen, or it could happen when he reads this. I cannot predict the future of our relationship, but I know one thing is for certain: our relationship will not be defined as brothers who never found a bond, but as brothers who never stopped looking.