Before I finished reading the subject line, I already felt the fire in my ears, the pressure in my jaw and the aching in my cheeks. My smile was inside-out the moment I saw the sender’s e-mail address.
My brother’s subject line: “FW: pic. Fat kid getting it done.”
Normally I’d be annoyed that someone would send such a derogatory e-mail. But it was from him.
When I opened the attached photo, this is what I saw:
(hot old man on the left)
The smile that had numbed my face and neck now arrested my entire body. It’s a darn shame the power that man has over me. As a little girl, I nearly worshiped him.
After he graduated high school, he attended a party where he met a guy who said he wanted to drive his motorcycle across the country to Texas. My brother said, “I’m in.”
Two days later, off he went. On a motorcycle. The same motorcycle on which I’d ride fearlessly with my warrior hero as he popped wheelies down at Edison Park. I was absolutely crushed.
They never made it to Texas because they decided to take a detour to Florida. And stayed. For years.
I used to sit on the front steps of our house and cry because I missed him so much. Let “Piano Man” or “My Sharona” hit the air waves. I’d be good for nothing for hours. Soaked in tears. Soaked in sorrow. Soaked in the hopes that he would hurry back and pluck those guitar strings and sing “Myyyyy boloney,” which ignited my laughapalooza. And I longed to hear his soothing voice entertain me at the piano at “nine o’clock on a Saturday…”
My prayers were answered when he returned a few years later and moved into Mom and Dad’s basement — where I could sneak down the stairs and stare at him sleeping.
My brother took me to open my first bank account. And when I turned 16, he bought me my first car: a white Honda CRX. He should’ve bought me a sturdier car, I suppose, because I had accidents every other week, it seemed. They were always never my fault. The movie Dances With Wolves had just opened in theaters, and he promptly nicknamed me “Crashes White Hondas.” I guess that’s a step up from “Wein.” <– He still calls me that. Ugh.
Today, my son plays guitar and piano. In Florida.
I wonder if my brother ever sits on a front step and prays me home from Florida when he hears a particular song.
Love you, Ran.