BIG BROTHER IS ALWAYS WATCHING
If you find yourself looking for the model of a good guy, look no further than my big brother, Raúl. He’s handsome, kind, funny, supportive, and humble. Just ask him…
My brother is ten years my senior, which I genuinely believe is the only reason one of us never murdered the other. We were never stuck in the same school at the same time, never hung out with the same people during our formative years, never dated each other’s friends, etc. He was at Trinity a decade before me, and then I eventually followed in his footsteps to boarding school in Connecticut. It was pretty nice knowing he was out there getting the world ready for me; preparing them for the magnificence that was to follow in his wake.
Raúl and I did not have too many opportunities to hang out when I was younger because of our age gap. By the time I was generating cohesive thoughts and sentences, he was at boarding school over one thousand miles away. Even when he was not physically there, he was always a huge presence in my life. My family talked about him all the time. As a small child, he seemed to be a tremendous force; some sort of superhero that went away to solve crimes and save the world. I would sit in his room, lay on his bed, put on shirts that he left behind. I took all of his toys, mostly because I was a kid and any toys in the house should belong to me, but also because I missed him without even really knowing him. To me, he was the bigger kid who taught me to dance, tickled me, and put records on for me. Then, one day he left. On the days that I was not out playing or causing a ruckus somewhere, it felt like he left me behind. Obviously, that was not the case, but for a child who is clearly the center of the universe, I took it pretty hard.
Like any younger sibling, there is a laundry list of things I hate about my older brother. Among them:
- For whatever reason, he is the only person in my family that was not baptized Catholic. He just has to be different…
- He has dimples that look like someone put pins in his chubby little cheeks. They’re adorable.
- His calves are magnificent.
- He is usually right.
While that last one in particular pains me to admit (especially in writing), it is the truth. His advice is usually spot-on and I never regret going to him with a problem. I have struggled a lot throughout my life and I can always count on him to say the right thing. It is very obnoxious, but it is also one of the reasons I love him so much.
He became the most involved in my life when I was thirteen and about to leave for boarding school. He took me to Cheesecake Bistro and told me to ask him anything. My first question was obviously about drinking, as I had already developed quite a taste for it. I tried to play if off, though, as mere curiosity. I am not sure if he bought it, but he did give me one rule: Never do it on campus. He also applied that to smoking pot, which at the time seemed completely ridiculous to me. He told me stories of people he knew that were thrown out of school for drinking and smoking and made me promise that I would not do the same. According to the man himself, he left quite a reputation behind and I had big shoes to fill. I could not go and mess it up.
While I knew he was exaggerating and not intentionally putting pressure on me, I took him very seriously. I was genuinely terrified of boarding school; leaving everything and everyone behind was something I was not even remotely interested in doing, but I was even more afraid of saying that out loud. I continued eating my garlic pasta while he went on, telling more stories about the pranks he and his friends pulled, the secret tunnels underneath the school, and who the coolest teachers were. When he said to me, “You have to promise to keep your V-card until you’re 18,” I choked, and we moved on.
Since that lunch, I have considered him to be my best friend. Others have come and gone in catastrophic fashion, but Raúl has always been there. When my roommate freshman year criticized me for being Catholic, I called him. When one of my closest friends and I stopped speaking to each other sophomore year, when I broke up with my first serious boyfriend junior year, when I found out that my ex boyfriend and my best friend were sleeping together senior year, I called him. When college happened, I called him. Whenever the next stupid thing happens to me, he will be my first call.
For a long time, one of my biggest regrets in life was that I was not there for my brother in the way that he was for me. The only time I remember him needing me was at our mother’s funeral. At the cemetery, he was seated next the casket, crying. I took a rose from the floral arrangement and gave it to him. He grabbed me so tightly that I could barely breathe and he buried his face in my neck. Of everything that happened with my mother, that moment struck me the hardest. Here was my big brother, the toughest guy I knew, clinging onto me – his scrawny little kid sister – desperately. I hugged him back, understanding even then that from that moment on, it was us.
That moment has stayed with me for over twenty years. Whether he remembers it or not, I cannot say. In my experience, most of what happened around that time was a huge blur, and my brother and I do not talk about it. He is a complex and stoic man, and I admire him for that. He cares about me more than anyone ever will and while I never earned the title of his best friend, I know he knows that I am always here.
As I write this, he is embarking on a huge new chapter in his life and I could not be more proud. Every day that I am around him, I learn something. Whether it is about him or myself or housework, it always proves to be invaluable. Whenever I stop to think about my life and my future, I always catch myself thinking, When I grow up, I want to be just like my big brother.
 The names in this thing are obviously fake to conceal the identities of my family and friends from
crazy people admirers. My brother chose his own.
 He still gives me shit for taking baths with his Voltron figurine. It was metal and so it rusted, but V and I had a relationship that my brother simply cannot understand. Bath buddies. That’s real.
 Whenever I am walking behind him he flexes unnecessarily just to make me jealous. It works every time.
 Which do not exist. Or do they…?
 Unless, it has to be my lawyer, which would not surprise anyone
 Because that would be admittedly creepy coming from a grown man to his little sister
© 2014 Mia Borders