Andy was my brother’s best friend. To be honest, the details of their friendship are sketchy to recall, but I do remember them being in cahoots as far as drunken shenanigans go.
Andy was not Rob. Rob was also into shenanigans. I don’t know what kind of drugs Rob was on when he chased my cat into a sliding glass door. Technically, it was my brother’s cat, but he wasn’t so great at care-taking. Therefore, Thrasher became my cat. He had curly stomach hair, purred like crazy and wanted to be all up under me all of the time.
One day, Rob terrorized Thrasher throughout the house. The cat, in desperation, thought he could escape Rob’s wrath via the sliding-glass door. Unfortunately, the door was closed and he broke his neck after running into it and died.
I’m not exactly sure why I was told this story in detail. I was too young to comprehend Rob being high and killing my cat. The whole thing seems wrong, but then again, so much of my youth was riddled with bizarre events like this one.
But, I digress. Back to Andy.
Andy, I can only assume, was a troubled, twisted soul. I imagine that someone who did what he did to my brother was terribly depressed at best. I’ve always felt he was a bit selfish, but have been reluctant to say so. I do not want to be misunderstood.
A lot of people remark that suicide is a selfish act. I don’t necessarily agree. What I did find selfish about Andy’s suicide specifically, was that he told my brother to come over to play basketball just prior to his life or death decision. He knew what he was setting him up for.
The story goes that, after being summoned, my brother went over to Andy’s house with basketball in hand and no one answered the door. The doors were unlocked, so he began wandering the house in search of Andy. Ultimately, he was nowhere to be found, until my brother reached the backyard and discovered Andy hanging from a tree.
My brother called 911 and they recommended he cut his friend down while they were en route to the house. If there were any chance that Andy was still alive, it had to be done. So my brother grabbed an axe. It was too late.
Ironically, my brother essentially reenacted this scenario several years later. The players and the circumstances were altered a bit, but the outcome was just the same.
…to be continued.
My brother was seven years older than me at the time of my birth.
NOTE: It’s weird to space your kids out like that. Truthfully, I don’t recommend it. In my experience, it’s better to have kids closer to each other in age, if you can manage to do so.
SIDE NOTE: This is quite possibly because my experience with a sibling age gap was traumatic. I have all of these asinine opinions like the one demonstrated above because nothing else makes sense but my own story and the context with which I remember it. I have no other models to refer to.
FURTHERMORE: This is not where I’d like you to tell me your story about a cool seven-year age difference you have with your sister. Please, save the “well, actuallys” and let me wallow in my rigid insanity.
I was too young at six-years-old to understand the kind of trouble my brother was in by the age of 13. I did know that he was my babysitter for a spell after our parents split and that it never ended well.*
The year I turned seven, he had entered, completed and exited rehab. I use the term “completed” loosely. By the time I was 10, I was actively hiding the drug paraphernalia he’d haphazardly leave around the house when he was high from my mom.
I learned to enable early. I was just trying to keep the peace.
Beer. Liquor. Weed. Coke. Speed. Heroin. My brother was an embarrassing junkie of the worst kind. When he started stealing things from the house and showing up to Christmas dinner spun out, I was fucking over it. At some point, I simply lost compassion for his plight. I don’t remember exactly when I began to see him as subhuman, but I truly did.
People at his funeral said wonderful things about my brother, but I can only assume those memories were from a time before I was alive. I’m not a mean-spirited person, but when it comes to grudges, there’s no one more skilled. There are things I may forgive, but trust and believe, I will never forget.
In hindsight, I suppose I could have been more understanding. Being abandoned by your dad and finding your best friend hanging from a tree over the course of a couple of years would be a daunting sequence of events for any teenage boy.
I still remember the sound of my mother’s wail when they called to tell us how Andy had set my brother up that day. After which, he didn’t leave his room for three months.
…to be continued.
*I’m still not entirely comfortable discussing the details publicly. Frankly, I will likely wait until a few more people die before I do so.
I guess maybe I got involved with the wrong crowd. The truth is, I merely gravitated toward a place where I wasn’t judged for being the daughter of an absent, alcoholic father and the sister of a junkie. I hung out with people like me; kids from broken homes accidentally left to wither away against the backdrop of a suburban sprawling landscape littered with perfect nuclear families.
I just wanted to fit in somewhere and a slew of other rejects adopted me as their own.
I was a pothead most of high school. I grew up in Oregon, dude. We are genetically modified at birth to be potheads for a minimum period of two-to-five years. Let’s just say, I served my time, during which I was simultaneously a 4.0 student and I held down two jobs.
I wasn’t happy though. I was a tragic mess of a little girl lost. I don’t want to incriminate the living, so I’ll keep it vague. Beyond the ambiguity for the protection of the somewhat innocent, I truly don’t believe anyone wanted to harm me intentionally. But they did. This is one reason why I’m about to turn 37 and I have no children. I’d rather not “unintentionally” fuck them up for life. As a bi-product of such a fiasco, it just doesn’t seem fair.
My first boyfriend was a Black skater/snowboarder with perfect chocolate skin and burgeoning dreadlocks. He was quite possibly the most fascinating person I’d ever laid eyes on. He was nearly four years older than me. I was 16 and he was 19, about to turn 20.
A consummate pothead and petty con artist, I was ill-equipped and destined to be one of his victims. I mean, really. How bad could it get?
It was bad. Real bad. Michael Jackson.
…to be continued
I had a boss once who would remark about challenging employees and always say something like:
"I don’t think anyone wakes up in the morning with the intention to go fuck everything up. But some people just do."
He’d say this about the guy who crashed the station vehicle for the third time or the intern who slept with one of the members of the Ying Yang Twins and woke up in the county jail afterward for public drunkenness like WTF. Happens to the best of us, I suppose.
Anyways, I’d always think about my late brother when he recited this phrase. I don’t think my only sibling wanted to ruin everything, but he was a bull in the China shop of life. He fucked shit up for accidental sport.
My brother was in rehab by the age of 14. I was seven. The teachers at my school thought it would be a good idea to have me speak to my peers about the dangers of drug addiction. After all, me having a flunkie drug-addict brother was almost like having a zoo animal for a family member. They wanted someone from his natural habitat to give some insight into how creatures like him lived. It was super wack, but I did it.
I was too young to understand what happened in family counseling. All I got out of it was that 11-year-olds were alcoholics and my brother was doing coke in his pubescent years.
I knew he had a problem when he couldn’t just have one bowl of sugar cereal. He’d eat the whole box in one sitting. We were supposed to share it. Mom said we could share it. Why didn’t he let me have any?
It was a life of excess. His cravings knew no limits. His greed was never quenched.
He was always AWOL and my mom would wake me up at 2am and we’d drive around the city looking for the house party he was rumored to be at. We’d listen to Sally Jesse Raphael on the radio. To a woman counseling other people about their problems. And we’d ride until the sun came up.
…to be continued.
My dad was a foreigner, but I didn’t understand that as a child. I was 12-years-old when it dawned on me that he had an accent and spoke in another language.
I knew my dad was from Finland and that my mom was Armenian and because of that we ate weird foods that the other kids with their Kraft singles sandwiches couldn’t grasp. Strange foods wrapped in the leaves of cabbages and grapes.
I started shaving at age nine. I was a hairy, yellow girl growing up in a small, pale town. The gals at my middle school thought my mom let me go tanning.
I was told that my dad didn’t want me and my brother to learn how to speak Finnish. Probably that “I’m-an-American-now-and-you-kids-will-speak-English!” attitude that some immigrants have. Or maybe not. Maybe he just wanted to talk his shit and have us not understand. Turns out, I didn’t understand much of the English-speaking him either. He was a confusing person the way he’d behave. Nothing like my TV dads Bill Cosby and Michael Landon.
My dad used to take my brother fishing and let him drink alcohol. I suppose that’s where it all started. 15 years of hell.
…to be continued.
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When I discuss my life story with people, they are generally shocked. I cannot quite determine if this reaction is offensive or flattering. Apparently, I do an excellent job playing off my personal tragedies by overshadowing them with the accolades I accrue from various career successes. I cannot quite determine if this is a good thing or a bad thing.
I’ve been leaving work early this week. Wait. Let me take that back. What I meant to say is, I’ve been leaving work around the same time everyone else leaves. Somewhere in the 5pm hour. Buck the system, right? I’ve determined I’m far more useful when I take the time to be a creative person and express myself. That’s what this tumblr post is all about.
I’ve been a writer since my grandmother gave me a thesaurus for Christmas one year. And a Black Cabbage Patch doll (which, by the way, my mom found infinitely strange). I was six-years-old. My grandmother was old-country Eastern born of immigrant parents buying her granddaughter a Black Cabbage Patch doll. Not a huge deal at first glance, I suppose. Until the summertime visits to Los Angeles came around and she made sure to recommend I stay out of the sun lest I get too dark. Maybe the doll was her attempt at being progressive. I do not know. Either way, she was a decent lady and she was a writer, too.
“You and your mom. Always in the sun getting so dark!”
My mom’s summertime pictures as a youth had her looking all types of East Indian. She recently did her ancentry.com DNA test. It came back a hybrid of the dark white people countries in Europe and the Middle East. My towhead Scandinavian father had a hard time looking me in the face because I am my mother’s twin, and they had the clear and finite falling out that most people who marry at the age of 21 have. Taking a glance at me though, she could have convinced a stranger that she birthed me all by herself. Some type of immaculate conception. This would have been believable if the blatant evidence of that man’s athletic bloodline wasn’t coursing so prominently through my veins.
My dad was a pre-Olympian long-jumper. And an alcoholic. And I haven’t seen him in 25 years.
…to be continued.