I've written in the past about how being with Tim is like being in a cocoon. That safe space we create together gives me a sense of calm and confidence that I can face the world again. Similarly, being with my closest sibling, my brother Reid, gives me a sense of rightness. It just resets me within myself. Many of you with siblings probably know what I'm talking about. My family is an interesting hodge podge of relations. My parents' story is similar to the Brady Bunch (6 kids between them) except that they had a mutual baby soon after their wedding: me. My brother Reid, is only 3 and a half years older than me so we grew up keeping pace with each other, though we're technically half siblings.*
As you can imagine, being the only shared kid and the only one whose parents stayed married created an interesting dynamic for me. Being that kid wasn't always easy and often children in a position of privilege end up living very fucked up lives, to be honest. That would make a great blog post for another time, but I share that with you to say even though I was given preferential treatment in some ways, somehow my brother never resented me for it. Or if he did, I never felt it coming from him.
When I was born, my grandmother took her little 3 year old grandson, whose parents had only recently been divorced, to buy him a present to congratulate him on my birth. We didn't have much in our early years and my grandma gave him the opportunity to get any one item from Toys R Us as a way of making him feel special. I cannot overstate what a big deal this was. He could have chosen a bike or something else major. But what did 3 year old Reid choose? He chose a soft pink baby blanket for his brand new sister. I kid you not.
Growing up behind this generous, curious, havoc-wreaking (in all the best ways), brave, wild brother was and is one of the greatest joys of my life. He was such a trail-blazer and still is. He lives completely on his own terms. That hasn't always been easy as the world has a way of arresting people who don't pay parking tickets and he's landed in rehab before as well. There is so much emphasis on conforming. And his little religious, serious, sponge-like sister was so, so good at it. But somehow, he liked having me around and I know I am the better for it. I was the kid that would only climb the tall tree if he did it first so I knew it was safe and could follow in his footsteps. As we got older, faith diverged our paths and I ended up a missionary and he ended up being exactly who he is: my favorite rebel. He rebels for all the right reasons. He's the one who feeds people for free even if he goes hungry. He just calls bullshit on all the injustice and ridiculous red tape in the world and creates beauty and community wherever he goes.
When we were teens, if we were out in public, sometimes we were mistaken for a couple. Ew! But we don't look like siblings and there is a clear closeness between us, which can easily be misconstrued at that age. He was the punk kid with the skateboard and green hair and I was the blonde in clothes from Old Navy. On the outside, we could not be more different. Yet somehow, I feel like he is such a part of me. Being at his place tonight in the city, watching him teach my kids how to cook and garden, leaving with a car full of food and a belly full of homemade salsa, I just feel reset. Like I can face my week, face my responsibilities and face the world. He bolsters me. There's nothing like having a sibling nearby, even if we don't get to see each other as often as we'd like. Just knowing he's there, in that garden in the city gives me roots. We all need roots.
Many times siblings take different things from their childhoods. But when I'm with Reid, I'm not reminded of the differences; I'm reminded of the similarities. We both love to be outside, to work hard, to cook and share good food. We both love music and don't care about dirt or having everything be just so. We both get caught up in projects and forget to take care of ourselves. We both love people more than stuff. We both fill with righteous indignation when we witness injustice and find ways to respond. We both have found incredibly perfect spouses, who balance our crazy and help us even out the extremes in us. We both know how to get in the middle of something and feel our way through it. We both value freedom and personal style and working with our hands. We both care-take in our own ways: he with the earth and with animals, me with children and friends. We both do too much and forget we're merely human. We both know how to read all day long. And while he's so much cooler than me and always has been, I'm so grateful to have access to his beautiful garden where I can touch back to childhood and lean in to the future all at the same time.
* I absolutely HATE the term. As someone who doesn't technically have anything but half siblings, I find these distinctions to be unhelpful and overall unnecessary. Let's not draw lines in family.