The Balloons

My father used to hold the pictures up in front of us, point, and say, “Who are those kids?” My brother, Vinnie, and I would look appropriately ashamed of ourselves for whatever we’d done to each other that day. I’d stare at the smiling brother and sister, one helping the other, and wonder when Vinnie had ever felt anything but annoyance for me.

We fougIMG_1513ht constantly, my brother and I. I once sat before my parents, telling them Vinnie had told me he didn’t love me. My parents called him up from the basement, and forced him to apologize before he could run back downstairs. As we grew older, our battles grew in complexity, from tiffs over who got to hold the remote to who was more helpful to the family (I was). Usually, these fights ended with me storming out, and Vinnie huffing around like a wounded animal. All of this continued until I was fifteen.

I entered high school just as Vinnie was leaving it. Each morning, he drove me to school, forcing me to listen to his terrible, grating bluegrass music. After several wIMG_1512eeks of this torture, he began to ask me about myself. How was I liking school? Was anyone giving me problems? Which teachers did I have? Would I be trying out for the play? Eventually, he let me play my own music on the way to school, and even enjoyed it. We began to talk every morning about the friends I liked, the classes he hated, the theorems he was learning in his astronomy class, and all the gossip we’d heard on campus. After a year of these daily chats, when the time came for him to graduate, I felt quite deflated. But he stayed close, coming home frequently and texting me regularly. When I needed dating advice or study tips, I went to him. And when he needed fashion advice, he came to me. Now, he is one of my best friends. Finally, we’re just like those smiling kids in the picture: whole, like a filled balloon.

One Comment Add yours

  1. I don’t know how much better I could have done describing the sibling experience. I think almost everyone who has a sibling can attest to having some degree of this experience. It really interested me to get an idea of your experience as the younger sibling. My perspective is closer to Vinnie’s normally, the big sibling. My brother and I definitely had our tiffs, and some times it seemed like we might not love each other, but we always did. I was definitely the only one who was allowed to be mean to my brother. But there is a degree that I didn’t realize to which we were connected, I’ve learned from my parents that my brother tends to talk a lot more when I’m around. Sometimes it’s the little things y’know.


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