Wednesday, January 19, 2005

How Much Do I Love My Brother?

The last time I saw my brother David was probably two years ago -- the last time I made the time to fly back home. It's been too long. Kin should not be separated for that long if they can at all help it.

I spent MLK weekend with my brother and his wife during their visit to NYC. [Aside: Can I give a shout-out to those Chinatown buses? Cheap and convenient, I tell ya!] Seeing as my brother had never been to The City before, we did all the touristy stuff for his benefit: Wall Street, Ground Zero, Statue of Liberty, Little Italy, Chinatown, The Empire State Building, the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We even managed to get in a brunch at the Serendipity Cafe, a destination inspired by the eponymous movie. (Okay, so Serendipity Cafe was my idea.)

Most startling to me during this visit... I realized just how much I love and miss my brother. Does absence truly make the heart grow fonder? Since I left home after high school, I generally haven't looked back at my family as something to go back to. But we all grow and change -- myself and my brother included. And the strength of my feelings toward my big bro caught even me by surprise.

I've taken some time to compose a brief list of the stuff I enjoyed most about my brother's visit -- the stuff I miss most about being with him.

1. Laughter. There is no end to amount we laugh when we're together. We laugh with each other; we laugh at each other. But in the end, it all amounts to the fact that we truly enjoy each others' company.

As we were walking around Battery Park trying to find our way to the Liberty Island Ferry, we passed some street vendors hawking their wares, including "designer" handbags, scarves and earmuffs. Closer to the boat were some more legitimate businesses: caricature artists. We watched for a bit as one artist worked his magic with his model sitting right in front of him.

"Man," David commented, perhaps a bit too loudly. "Don't look now, but that drawing looks nothing like him!" He drew a few askance glares from other passers-by, until one of them started laughing.

As we continued walking, we realized the angle of the drawing vis-a-vis the model had perfectly obscured the fact that the artist was actually drawing the model on the half of his page that was perfectly obscured by his head. The rendering that my brother was commenting on was the model's girlfriend, obviously having been drawn slightly earlier.

I burst out laughing at David, who took his lumps well. "Whew. I was going to tell the guy he needed to demand his money back."

2. Patience. David somehow inherited all the patience in the family. To put it mildly, his wife can be extremely annoying at times. And yet David is able to put up with her much better than I possibly ever could. Being with him allows me to endure more, if only because I don't want to be the "bad guy" who reaches his snapping point first.

3. Laughter. I take my licks too, trust me.

On the Liberty Island Ferry, my brother went out to the deck to take pictures of Lady Liberty with his digital camera, the best angles being from the boat. Keep in mind, this past weekend was exceedingly cold in The City; the temperature wasn't helped by the fact that we were on a moving boat.

He asked me to take a shot of her with him, so I took the camera and started trying to frame the shot. Problem is, for some strange reason I couldn't get the camera to zoom back in from where my brother had set it. It was basically completely impossible for me to frame the Statue in any shot with my brother, because what was basically his GINORMOUS HEAD kept taking up the entirety of the shot. That combined with my struggles to keep my balance on the deck of a moving boat -- have I mentioned it's a moving boat we're on? -- sent my brother into fits of hysterics. Literally, tears started streaming down his face. (Of course, having a wet face can't possibly be pleasant in near freezing temperatures, but he put up with it well.)

I called him "Ginormous Head" for the remainder of my visit.

4. Genorosity. Despite the fact that he had spent quite a good deal more to make it to NYC than I did -- I paid $35 for a round-trip bus ticket -- my brother insisted on paying for almost all our meals out. We literally had to fight to toss our credit cards onto the bill trays, then argue with the waiter over which card to accept over the other. I think a part of him still views me as the younger brother, and he the older, bearing some level of responsibility for me. It's sweet, in a perverse sort of way.

5. Laughter. We laugh with and at each other. A lot. Our parents actually miss that about us; I think it warms their hearts to see the two of us poking fun of each other.

Early on after I arrived in New York, we were walking around the South Street Seaport area when , having just crossed the street, I literally almost fell flat on my face at the curb -- over what appears to have been a large packet of air. My brother, of course, laughed loudly and uproariously over my klutziness. I was flabbergasted myself.

A few blocks later, the large pocket of air tracked us down for an encore performance -- this time landing in front of my brother. The sheer irony of the situation caused us both to double over in the bitter winter cold with laughter.

6. Laughter. Okay, I have to toss in one more for the heck of it.

On the 86th floor observation deck of the Empire State Building, my brother and I managed to bust into inappropriate giggles. All it took was for me to mention my fear of heights. To wit, while looking over the edge of the platform, I muttered, "Man, I can feel my fear of heights."

David started giggling, so I knew he knew what I meant. So I elaborated: "You know, that tingly feeling right there in your balls."

My brother lost it. His wife, of course, just couldn't quite understand.

I love pushing it when my brother hits the edge like this. "Don't even try to deny that you're feeling it too, man. You know you are."

"I don't think so!" David responds, still choking on his laughter. "It's worse," he mutters under his breath.

"Worse?" I pounce. "Oooh, I get it. You don't have that tingly sensation in your balls. You're in full-on retreat mode! We're talking major reversion back to the body cavity!"

It was at this point that the SIL put a kaibosh on this conversation. But we kept giggling the rest of the time on the observation deck.


In a strange way, I sort of wish my brother hadn't brought his wife with him on this trip. I love her dearly, but she can be really annoying; moreover, her constant presence meant I didn't truly get all that much bonding time with my brother which I sometimes wish I had.

But in the end, despite the fact that I had been to NYC many many times in the past, and done far more exciting and interesting things in previous trips, I have to say that this particular trip was the best one ever.


Jon said...

Sounds like you had fun. And so much for Mr. I have a really high tolerance!! You were pretty trashed after those 3 martinis ^_~

Dennis! said...

Nah, I wasn't that drunk. :) Well, at least i've been drunker in my life. Those were tasty martinis though.