Brotherhood

My cousin Lindy put together a slideshow for my grandmother’s birthday party. She asked all of us to go through our pictures to find some of grandma. I found some good shots on that front, but the real good stuff was all the pictures I found of my brothers and I.

They were those cool cap with the split tails in the back.

They were those cool cap with the split tails in the back.

I would kill for abs like those again.

I would kill for abs like those again.

Even at a young age Paul was smart enough to know there was something wrong with Matty.

Even at a young age Paul was smart enough to know there was something wrong with Matty.

1

These naps were for my parents, not us. I get that now.

5

Just FYI, I’m going grow my hair out again. Starting today.

7

That’s Papa Joe’s shadow. Those shirts, though.

First of all, we still don’t know what’s wrong with Matty.

Anyway, all of the pictures of our childhoods were taken before the digital age; our baby pictures are in three separate albums at my parents’ house. Well, that’s what we thought anyway. My parents did an admirable job of cataloging our baby pictures, but I guess they just got to busy and/or lazy to continue filling those sticky pages of our albums.

I had seen all of our albums with the pictures and the yellowed pieces of paper with crusty tempra paint hand prints. I had no idea, though, that my mom had kind of just collected all the pictures from after 1987 into stacks, then shoved them into envelopes. Those are the pictures I saw for what seemed like the first time two weekends ago.

Perhaps predictably, I don’t remember us this way. It’s been too long. Too many things have filled the time and space between now and then. I can, however, remember how I felt. I was always closer to Matty because of baseball. I never spent a lot of time with Paul because he was six years younger and our interests were very different. I played baseball with Matty just long enough to be jealous of his overall abilities, then I left for LMU. Matty was 15, Paul was 12.

Time is a hell of a thing, and while I was busy in serach of myself (and cheap alcohol), my brothers were growing up without me. I came back for summers and winters, but I spent more time with my friends than Matty and Paul. By the time I graduated in 2002, Matty traded places with me in the mainland, and Paul and I drove into Damien every day together. He was a junior; I taught freshmen and sophomores.

I don’t distinctly remember any of these moments and in truth, I don’t remember a whole lot about growing up with Matty and Paul. It makes me sad, even though I suspect that this is also true of many people my age. Perhaps it is a combination of advancing into my 30s and destroying brain cells in my 20s. No one will ever know the exact ratio. Looking at these pictures makes me want to take every single photo in my parents’ home and snap them with my phone. I don’t remember a lot about high school either, will my memories of college be the next to inexorably fall to time? Probably. Thinking of these things makes me sad.

Today, Matty is married and works his ass off at Bank of Hawaii. Paul is a high-priced lawyer with a demanding work schedule and an even more formidable TV slate. We don’t spend a lot of time together, but when we do, it’s pretty good. Invariably, two of us will try to get the third to do something the first two don’t want to (change the channel, take the dishes to the sink, get drinks from the cooler outside). We have a little more in common now: friends, family, movies, television, but best of all, football.

During brief, non-epic (unlike Matty) period during which Paul was looking for a job, he got into football (it’s not baseball, but it’ll do). Two seasons ago, he relayed a play to my father like this: The quarterback threw the ball to the wide receiver but he didn’t catch it. “Incomplete pass,” I said. It was pretty hilarious. But damn if Sundays aren’t the best thing ever: our father sits in his red recliner while Matty, Paul, and I sit on different parts of the couch. My dad, Matty and I often sport the bulges at our midsections that Paul has fought long and hard to avoid. Matty and I make the same comments about the gameplay. Paul and I laugh at  and/or hate on the same random things we observe, like crowd shots, commercials, awkward plays, and overzealous fanbases. My dad, of course, is the family contrarian. He trashes the Seahawks (Paul), Dolphins (Matty), and Cowboys just because he enjoys ragging on us. I never want to fight anyone, but sometimes I want to fight my dad. That’s how good he is at jawing.

I missed out on a lot of time with my brothers. Now that we’re all adults, I’m never going to be able to make all of that up. Because of that, when I get into one of my zones of deep thought, I am confronted with the thought that I don’t know them as well as I think I do. I know their signature moves: Matty’s nose sniffle, Paul’s Sigh of Contempt™. I know their greatest dual failing: shoplifting. I wasn’t really around for the rest. Still, Matty and Paul have always been there when I have needed them. I know they always will be. That’s enough.

I love you two clowns.

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