Yesterday was my brother Jeremy’s birthday. Not all siblings get along well, and goodness knows, Jeremy and I have driven each other crazy and infuriated each other any number of times. We’ve teased each other, belittled each other, ignored each other, hit each other. And yet, through all of that, we’ve generally stuck by each other. We’ve both helped each other out financially, emotionally, and in many other ways. We can go for weeks without saying a word to each other, but when we get together, it’s difficult to to shut us up or get a word in between us. In many ways, he’s one of the best friends I’ve got.
He’s 23 months younger than me. I can’t really remember a time when he wasn’t in my life. We look very different–Jeremy got all of our parents’ dominant traits (dark hair, brown eyes) and I got the recessive ones (fair hair, blue/green eyes). I’m delicately pale, while his skin is naturally tan. But we were also around the same height when we were little kids, so people sometimes thought we were twins. (Now he’s a few inches taller than me, the cheeky bastard.) We’ve always been charismatic in very different ways. I was a shy kid, lost in my own dreams, but for some reason, other kids often wanted me around. Jeremy was the kid who always took charge of a situation, becoming the leader through sheer force of will, and nobody minded, because his first concern was always justice and fairness. I was terrified of confrontation, but could often get away with things with a smile and a charming innocence. Jeremy was blunt, direct, full of righteous indignation and completely unafraid to confront older children and adults if he thought someone was being treated unfairly. He often won people over with his honesty and integrity.
Our parents split when I was four and Jeremy was two. We moved a lot after that, living in five different places from pre-school to middle school. Wherever we moved to, he and I were generally the only friends each other had at first. He and I weren’t always interested in the same things, but we had enough similar interests–and were close enough in age–that we played together a lot growing up. In elementary school, our mother took us on long road trips, when Jeremy and I had no one but each other to play with. We would generally sit in the back of the car, making tape recordings of weird “radio shows” we made up. In middle school, we both started playing guitar and writing horrible songs together. There were only two years between kindergarten and my high school graduation that we didn’t live with each other, and those were the two most difficult years of my pre-college life.
Happy Birthday, Jeremy! I’ve very thankful to have you as my brother and my friend.