A few years ago I got to visit my younger brother for Thanksgiving when he lived in Denver, CO. He had been living there for over a year and had secured a nice apartment in a building inhabited by similar aged young people, many of whom were spending the holiday alone.
Our relationship has been both emotionally close as well as distant. We are only 17 months apart, and were raised closer to twin brothers than separately on our own (In fact we even shared twin bunk beds, which we rotated every month). His 'color' was red, mine, blue. Since he was 'big' for his age our parents dressed us to match, which made sense but still bothered me, feeling cheated out of my identity. In addition to clothes, we also shared an older brother. It's pretty funny to write about now thinking back to the situation and all the crazy things our parents did for us. My brother and I were close whether we liked it or not. There were few if any boundaries. There were even times when we could read each others minds.
Sometimes we were on the same page, and others we were polar opposites. Our energies flowed like Yin and Yang constantly seeking balance, but at a cost. I noticed that we seemed to compete, which is natural for brothers; however, it became like a constant war. His gain was my loss, and mine, his. For a decade of our lives, we battled together in a zero-sum game.
Eventually, our older brother moved away to college which freed up a bedroom and resources which were desperately needed by the time we reached puberty. A little 'space' went a long way, as my brother and I were allowed some breathing room apart. I didn't miss him until I discovered that I needed him. That's when I realized how important he truly was.
Colin was fearless. He was the little kid that jumped from the high-dive board at the public pool when all the other kids were too afraid (including me). He wasn't afraid to kill giant bugs or ride his bike across busy streets to the grocery store to cash in change he either stole or 'found' for candy. He was a brave kid.
It was his confidence that gave me strength. Any battle that I was fighting was assured of victory with Colin on my side. It became clearer that if I was to be truly victorious in this life, it would be with my brothers.
Okay, back to spending Thanksgiving in Denver. Colin is an amazing chef, but a poor financial planner. I was a successful financial planner, but my cooking skills up till then involved milk and cereal. I took him grocery shopping, and bought him everything he needed to make an amazing Thanksgiving spread (the most memorable one yet). I woke up that morning to see him cooking bacon, thinking that he appreciatively made me some breakfast. Instead he let me have a few small bites before showing me that he was rendering the bacon fat so as to baste the spicy masala-rubbed turkey and prepare the stuffing. With the rich bacon grease he fried onions, garlic, mushrooms and store bought stuffing with which to impregnate our holiday headliner. He placed the turkey on a bed of rosemary-sprinkled potato cubes soaked with the remaining bacon drippings and put the whole thing into the oven to roast. After a couple of hours the smell of deliciousness filled the air; friends and neighbors started to make their way into Colin's apartment to say "hi", to which he coolly replied "dinner would be ready in about an hour."
The girls on the first floor, below Colin, hosted the apartment potluck for all those that weren't able to celebrate with family. I felt privileged to attend, but also that my little brother was the Man of the Hour. After one bite, no one spoke. Everyone ate as if their plates were going to melt. His food was a success! Except for his bright Cheshire Cat smile, Colin was as cool as ice.