Friday, June 27, 2008

Self-reflection, in the key of the little brother.

I lit the Shabbos candles tonight and watched the wax melt down the candles, angled slightly, dripping wax on the cloth covering the top shelf of the bookcase. I couldn't get them to sit upright, and after many attemps, I gave up, anticipating a mess to clean up after they finished burning. They seem to have burned much quicker than usual tonight, in a rush, like the flame had someplace to be -- someplace important. Sunrise, sunset.

I'm talking to my little brother on MSN messenger. I can't remember the last time I logged into it before last night. Something sparked me to install Pidgin (a multi-platform IM system), which logged me into my old MSN and AIM accounts. I haven't been consistently on either of them in more than a year, MSN for several years. I think we grow out of things, and I think I've mostly grown out of instant messaging (and on to fun things like Twitter and GChat, I guess).

So here I am, chatting with him about his 16-year-old love life. And trying to figure out who his love interest is, I pop over to his MySpace page (the kids are big on the MySpace, not so much with Facebook), and here I am, now, listening to his cheesy punk pop love ballads in his music player. It started with a song by Blink 182 -- "I Miss You."

Man, does that song take me back.

He's telling me about this girl and how it's "complicated" and I'm relaying to him how I have a couple of my own "complicated" situations right now. I'm telling him about when I was in high school the boy I wanted, but the other boy who chased after me, and I finally gave up on the boy I wanted for the boy who chased after me and had a really amazing two-year relationship. About how there's an old flame visiting soon and how there's that other special someone who has me, but doesn't necessarily need me. I know he doesn't care, but listening to this cheesy music and listening to him relay these things, I feel like I'm 16 again.

It makes me wish I could be there for him, even if he didn't need me. I've missed him growing up. I mean, I helped raise him through elementary school, but then I was off to college and he was left to do it all on his own, and he's doing okay. But I feel his distance now more than ever. And then I'm telling him about how I talked with our older brother (one year my senior, 10 years the little brother's senior) and how I think I upset him with my suggestions about how to get his life back on track. And the little brother says,
yah, you're good at that. and alienating yourself from the family in general.
I quickly jumped to my defense -- to defend my life's decisions and aims, but he knows. He's always understood, for some reason. He knows that I don't want to end up obsessed with money, depressed and working in retail with the world's biggest chip on my shoulder. And when I converted to Judaism he thought it was neat, he understood why I was doing it. He's always thought it was cool that I've lived in so many places, traveled to so many more. I know he looks up to me, at least, that's the way he's always treated me. His respect and love is more important than anything in the world to me. If there's one person always worth fighting for, it's my little brother. Joe joe. Bubba. Josephina (he hates that last one).

So we're talking, and I'm feeling old. He says I'm "cool old ... you're old..minus the disgusting parts" and that has me laughing. I get what he means, and I appreciate it. But none the less, I know I can't continue to listen to Blink 182 and relive the glory days where boys would spend months trying to pin me down. Where I was the one in control.

I used to be so difficult. And now? I feel sort of translucent. I wear my heart on my sleeve; I'm not nearly as strong as I used to be. But I guess that's what happens when you get old, eh?

I guess I should peel the wax off the bookcase now, since it's hardened as the night has gone on. Sunrise, sunset, don't you think?