Today is my brother’s 46th birthday. My older brother, that is. So I’ve known him my whole life. And in celebration of this day, I wanted to write a kind-of tribute to him because writing is what I do and it’s cheaper than buying him something. Besides what do you get the brother who has everything, including a leopard hat and an iPad.


Even at a young age, I looked up to him. I even wanted to dress like him. I remember us wearing red and white striped t-shirts, white shorts and tube socks pulled up to our knees. And we did this for a while until he decided he didn’t like it anymore. Which has worked in my favor because I don’t look good in feathers and velvet pants. Or leopard hats.

When we were kids, we fought a lot but we also spent hours playing together. We rode our bikes around the neighborhood. Played sock baseball in his bedroom. Tried to find little orange ringneck snakes in the woods next to our house. Set the house on fire. (Just him, not me.) And whenever one of us had a loose tooth, we would bite down on Mousey’s tail and the other would pull hard to get the tooth to come out. I think I had to give him a percentage of what the tooth fairy brought me.

I also remember being forced to spend hours on the middle landing of our stairs because either way I went, up or down, he would spit on me. And my favorite. Being pinned down on my back by his knees, after he had consumed a glass of a viscous liquid like milk or orange juice, while he slowly let the thick saliva come dribbling out of his mouth, letting it get precariously close to my face only to be slurped up at the last moment. At least most of the time.

We remained close as we got older, graduated high school and went to different colleges. I was never allowed to date his friends but I did manage to make out with one or two of them. We ended up in New York City at the same time for just a short period of time. And that was nice. But after that, he lived all over the place: Los Angeles, Denver, London, San Francisco and now in a nice little town just outside of there. Across the country from where I am.

There is no one like a sibling. Someone who shares your complete history. Someone who has been with you through life’s good and bad. And who has supported you and given you advice that is sometimes not asked for, yet taken anyway.

And there is no one like my sibling. My brother. We’ve been pretty lucky in life, enjoying many experiences together, sharing lots of laughs. But during the times when things were difficult, our parents’ divorce, my divorce, the passing of our grandfather, we had each other. And that has felt great.

I don’t want us to become one of those families where the siblings grow apart and don’t share in each other’s lives. And neither does he. And equally important, neither does my sister-in-law. So, we see each other at least two times a year, and try for more. This year it will be at least four. Our kids love each other. The two boys are close in age and in spirit. My daughter and his middle child, a girl, write old fashioned pen pal letters to each other. And they all dote on his littlest, an impy, precocious 4 year old.

Part of my gift to him this year is the premier publication of one of his poems. Maybe the only one that he has ever written. The poem was scribbled on half of a Pan Am boarding pass. First class, of course. It is untitled and has only been read once before, by me, at the rehearsal dinner that preceded his wedding to my wonderful sister-in-law. (I love her to the moon and back.) The year was 1996 and I was 4 months pregnant with my first child. At that point, the poem was already a decade old, written, I think, on a post-collegiate trip to Israel while camping on a beach with a girl who turned out not to have the staying power of my sister-in-law. Or maybe she just didn’t like his poetry. But I do.

Happy Birthday Brother.

UNTITLED

Moon in a pale blue sky
set tranquilly yet alluring.
Serene beauty of a heavenly object
above which all else is expanded.
Witnessing the pale blue sky
surrounded by moon
is an enlightening event.

Sunsets captivate me.
The many more I see
the ever increasing fascination.
I must express the feeling
of having the coincidence
of viewing such a sight.

Wonder + Truth.
Splendor does survive.