Today, my little-big brother proposed to his girlfriend, and will successfully beat his
pregnant and unwed little sister to the alter. What an asshole.
I am becoming more aware all the time, between the cross-country (and in my case, ocean) moves, the tiny flutters in my uterus, and the pending nuptials of my siblings, that we're not the adorable, hell-raising little tots we once were (see below for proof). At first, that thought is terrifying, and creates a weird nostalgia in me that I didn't know I was capable of. As I see what we're turning into, though, I can't help but be a little proud.
My two older brothers spent the first half of our lives in equal parts torturing me and defending my honor. They might leave a well-hidden stereo under my bed, playing a tape they recorded in their most convincing kidnapper voice, promising I wouldn't make it through the night, but they were equally likely to string up any kid on the playground who looked at me cross-eyed.
Honestly, not that much has changed, as far as our interaction goes. You never forget where your siblings' buttons are, and how to push them in all the worst ways. We spend half our time making sarcastic comments about the others' lifestyle, shoes, face, whatever strikes us. And I can't speak for them here, but our time together, no matter how emotionally stunted we all may be, is something I hold dear to me. I will never feel safer with any man than with either of them.
Nick, my oldest brother, took after our father the most. Short-tempered, with an even quicker wit, you aren't likely to walk away from a confrontation feeling victorious. Though my instinct says its partly a show, he boasts a confidence (but never an arrogance) that has allowed him to get away with an astounding amount of trouble-making in his life. As a kid, his teachers both adored him and feared seeing his name on their class roster at the beginning of every year. As an adult, his peers (and those working above him) have an unspoken respect for the way he carries himself and handles his duties. He's not much for following policy, but he's better at what he does that most. He's been hurt, and like the rest of our family, hides his insecurities about himself beneath self-deprecating humor and a genuine effort to make other people happy.
Zachary epitomizes the stereotypical middle child - the polar opposite of Nick and me in a lot of ways. He was easy-going and slow to anger as a child. Alternating between withdrawn and the life of the party as an adolescent, he adapted easily to any social situation. He's had the same goofy smile since birth, and never a shortage of girls pining for his attention. He played the perfect middle-man in our family. Because we were closer in age, he has had the wonderful privelage of being my most trusted confidante. He played with me and my dolls, caught me smoking my first cigarette, and was the first to hear about my pregnancy. And like he probably trusted me to never tell people that he played with dolls, I've always been able to trust him with everything I was going through. Though probably none of us would seriously admit it (or maybe we would), I'm pretty sure that he is everyone's favorite family member.
Me, well, I'm the baby. I fit that role pretty well. I'm flighty, slightly neurotic, and maybe slightly co-dependent. I spent the first 18 years of my life as "Nick and Zack's little sister," a badge I wore with both pride and resentment. In the last few years, I've worked on becoming my own person, never really coming up with any solid answers on who that person is. Right now, all I know is that I'm going to be somebody's mother, and I'm trying to figure out what that means. 4,000 miles away from what will always be "home," and my friends and family, I spend a large chunk of my time panicking. Luckily, that's a skill I mastered early in life.
When we were back home after losing our grandmother, I was astounded at how much we'd all changed, and how much we'd stayed the same. We were older, and talked about slightly more grown-up things (occasionally), but that was essentially the only difference. We were those kids, sitting around with our cousins in my grandmother's house, telling stories and making light-hearted jokes at each other's expense. In those days spent with my whole enormous family, I have never been more thankful for the way I was raised, and all of the people who took a hand in it.
Losing such an important member of our family so close to my moving made leaving my family and hometown so much harder than I was ready for. Sitting in that house with those sixty people, though, surrounded by the love and support and warmth that family brings, instilled a new confidence in me. I'm going to bring another life into this world, and I'm not going to fuck it up irreparably. I'm going to raise a confident, capable, and compassionate little person. It's going to value family and sarcasm and sunshine. I'll never stop worrying, because family never does, but I'll always have confidence, because family never let's that go.
I hope, for the kid's sake though, it lacks my innate skepticism.