My brother turned the magic age of 30 today.
My only sibling, he's younger than me by about a year and a half. So, for as far back as I can really remember, he's always been there. He's been my most trusted and faithful companion, as a boy and as a man. We were Boy Scouts together, and we both attended the same college (for different degrees ... he always was the smart one, and he found his calling in engineering). He's a hard worker, a hilarious guy, and one of the most trustworthy and reliable gentlemen you will ever meet.
He grew up with the same kind of music as I did, from the Beatles to Neil Diamond to Anne Murray.
I think he'd agree, however, that music isn't as all-consuming to him as it is to me. He loves what he loves, to be sure, and he listens to a lot of music from different genres. He's as likely to be listening to The Smashing Pumpkins as he is to be listening to "Les Miserables." In college, he definitely had the more contemporary ear. He'd be listening to college radio and hearing current songs, while I was grooving to old Pink Floyd records or Beach Boys bootlegs. (Just to be fair, he's also a Pink Floyd fan.)
But this post really isn't about music, or about me. This time, the post is about him. (Of course, since this is from my perspective, you'll get some of me in it. Can't be helped.)
I look back at our youths and can remember running down sidewalks with him. I can remember squirt gun fights. I can remember remote-controlled cars. I can remember our first 10-speed bicycles. I remember the boy who could do anything I could do ... and sometimes, even better than I could do it. I remember the grin and the confidence.
(In the above photo, he is the kid at the left on the lap. I'm the kid standing next to him.)
I can remember the teen. The dry sense of humor. The goofy mannerisms that would endear him to our French language teacher. I remember his stormy arguments with our parents. I remember him hiding his first bottles of alcohol (he beat me to that landmark). I remember his first dates, his first breakup. I remember the struggles as he tried to define himself. He was growing up fast.
(My brother drank a few bottles of Everclear during his late teen years. Some nasty stuff.)
I can remember the strong steps toward independence when he entered college. His separate dorm, his stranger roommate, his different schedule, his separate friends, his burgeoning interests. I remember his clever humor, his willingness to take up new hobbies and try new things, including moving into a duplex with college friends (and his older brother ... not always the easiest for either of us). I remember his graduation, and knowing that he was going to succeed at whatever he wanted to do.
I remember his wedding, standing at his side as his best man. I remember his smiles and his good humor as he dealt with friends and family in situations that ranged from fun to stressful, sometimes within moments of each other. I remembered thinking, "He's all grown up now. He's on his path, he's a good man and he's strong. He's resourceful. He's intelligent." I was so proud of him, so happy for him (... And I still am).
(My brother and his wife at their wedding. They are both very cool.)
My brother is one of the very best men I know. I'm proud of him, and I was very pleased when he agreed to be my best man when I got married in October. His speech and toast after the ceremony moved me pretty deeply, and reminded me again of our shared past. Through thick and thin, good and bad, joy and pain, he's been there with me. Even when I was a miserable bastard to be around, he stuck by me. (Thanks dude.)
(My brother is on the left. I'm the dude on the right. This was at my wedding.)
Happy 30th birthday, Mitch. I look forward to seeing what you achieve in the next 30 years. You've already done a lot in your first 30. You continue to inspire me, and I'm thankful you are my brother and my friend.
OK, well, I think that was suitably sappy enough. The next post will get back to the music stuff. Have a good one, folks.