Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cool Hair, Lonely Coworkers, and My Brother

When I was a little kid, it was very important to me to be able to comb my hair over to the right across my forehead. My mom or older siblings would comb my hair out straight so the tangles would be gone, but the finishing flourish was left to me and I'd get furious if they tried to do it themselves. So furious, in fact, that I remember it to this day.


I once worked with a woman who was recently divorced and was still having some pretty major issues with it. She told me that she had sewn together three pillows to put on what was once his side of the bed so she wouldn't feel so alone at night. I remember thinking how sad that was, and how strange that she would be willing to share this fact with anyone, much less some 21 year old kid she happened to be temping with.

She was transferred to a different department and I didn't think about her again until I saw Body Pillows being marketed. She was a woman ahead of her time. It makes me angry that I didn't see the value in the idea when it was staring me in the face. Lonely people all over the nation were ready to drop $20 for a lump of pillow that approximated a companion.

That, and they're comfy as hell of course.


My brother and I were far enough apart in age that we didn't have much in common when we were young. When I was playing with GI Joe's, he was getting to an age where he couldn't be seen playing with them with me (but would when no one was looking). When I moved on to bigger and better toys, he was discovering girls. While I was discovering girls, he was discovering beer. And so it goes with brothers with ten years between them.

There was one night though that stands out to me. I was probably in the Sixth Grade, and Paul would have been home on a visit from the private high school he went to in Florida. I was sitting out on the front porch of our house in Indiana, watching the clouds race by the moon. The sky seemed lower somehow, the clouds just scraping over the tops of the trees, and the moon just out of reach beyond. I had never seen a sky like that before or since.

Paul came home, and instead of going past me to get inside he sat beside me and we watched the sky together. I remember that we talked, but don't recall about what. I'm sure it was of no consequence. I just remember feeling like we were having a discussion of the kind I had seen him have with other men. It was a grown up discussion, easy and unimportant.

I've mentioned it to him a couple times over the years and he remembers nothing about it. It doesn't surprise me that he doesn't remember the discussion, or the fact that it was the first time that he talked to me in a way that didn't project the fact that I was his little brother. What surprises me is that he forgot that sky, and how the night smelled, and how neither one of us could bring ourselves to walk through that front door until we had run out of excuses and could put it off no longer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Time past makes it plain.