My brother and I have not been in touch for a very long time. There are a lot of reasons for this, none of which I’ll be going into right now. What I did want to write about today are a few of my favorite memories of him when we were kids together. No matter what our relationship looks like now or in the future, he will always be one of the best parts of my childhood. I’ll be referring to him as “SJ” instead of his real name for privacy.
SJ is almost three years younger than me. We have two older sisters who are identical twins and four years older than me (seven years older than SJ). While our personalities are all different, my sisters always seemed gentle, serious, and interested in “serious” subjects like science, math, and logic. SJ and I were louder, acted like idiots, and cared more about things like Monty Python & The Holy Grail and Angry Beavers.
My brother and I shared the same sense of humor. It was a nonstop Anna & SJ Show. Our father and sisters were often annoyed. Even though our mother thought we were funny, she would get tired of it. What can I say? SJ and I took it upon ourselves to be the entertainers of the family and frequently recited “The Walrus and the Carpenter” sequence from Alice in Wonderland or the entire Emperor’s New Groove movie from memory. Constant quotes from our repeated viewings of movies like Napoleon Dynamite and The Polar Bear King probably didn’t help our sisters appreciate us more. SJ was very animated and good at impressions and silly faces. He made a character out of the sleeve of his shirt who he aptly named “Mr. Sleeve,” and we were all used to Mr. Sleeve’s comedy antics. The family always used to say that he could be the new Jim Carrey or Robin Williams if he wanted to.
We usually picked bad times to bless those around us with our performances, like when someone was in a bad mood already or at least one parent had told us to shut up or chill out. I think we both used comedy as a coping mechanism without realizing it. Even if our comic genius got shut down at the dinner table, we didn’t care. We were busy having too much fun.
While my sisters were the focused A+ scientists, I was the creative writer. My love for verbal did not extend to actual schoolwork but to questionable horror stories and imaginary lives that I lived through a dozen hidden black and white composition notebooks (usually labeled TOP SECRET DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU ARE ANNA). I don’t think my natural aptitude fell in the natural sciences anyway, but I also didn’t often feel like it was accessible to me. Writing was my safe place. In contrast to his three sisters, SJ was strong in every subject at school. He never seemed to struggle with mathematical concepts like I did, AND his writing was amazing. As an adult, he ended up choosing math as his career focus, but when we were kids, we both leaned more towards writing. This might have been because SJ and I shared overactive imaginations and a flair for the dramatic.
Our favorite part of the day was when our mother let us each have an hour-long turn playing video games after our schoolwork was done. When the twins went off to college, SJ and I were both teenagers and interested in the same games at the same time. We would watch each other play and assist if backup was needed. We solved puzzles in Star Wars Droidworks and Nancy Drew mystery games, we provided commentary and snark on decisions and play styles, we laughed at bugs and bad dialogue. Some of our favorite games came from redeeming cereal box proofs of purchase through the mail, like Chex Quest (and Chex Quest 2!) or the Croc games. We played every Star Wars pc game we could get our hands on. Speaking of Star Wars pc games, if you didn’t play Yoda Story or Gungan Frontier in the late 90s, you missed out and should find emulator versions or Youtube clips. Right now.
Even though we loved multiplayer games too, those usually brought out the worst sides of us. We were both very competitive and stubborn, and we liked getting each other in trouble. Many a fight over Kirby Air Ride had to be broken up by a parent. There was also a very real sense of injustice if one of us went even five minutes over their allotted hour of play. I SHOULD GET FIVE MORE MINUTES IF HE GOT FIVE MORE MINUTES. IT’S NOT FAIR.
These were just a few of the many memories I have with SJ, and maybe I will write more about him in the future. All I know is that I wanted to say a few words today about my brother and how he was my friend.