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Letter 3: My Brother’s Birthday

December 15, 2010

This sunday was my brother’s 20th birthday, which was a perfect occasion for me to send him a letter!

My brother and I are different in some major ways. He’s energetic, down-to-earth, and sociable. I’m calm, a day-dreamer, and shy. He likes to be outside in nature, and go to town once in a while for movies or clothes. I like living in humongous cities and escape in the countryside only when I need to (for a day).  So we grew up side by side but not really interacting. For example, we both played the piano, or volleyball, or enjoyed mountain activities; it was just almost never at the same time. Even when we went on vacation together a couple of years ago, we didn’t have a lot to say to each other and spent most of the time apart.

But a funny thing happenned last Christmas. I was living abroad and it was the first time in almost two years I visited my family. He had grown and matured (I remember saying “Wow you grew a beard!”), and I probably had too, because we really spent a good time. We talked, exchanged more than just simple platitudes, and really learned to appreciate each other.

And when I talked about our differences I forgot to mention that he’s the one who best kept in touch with family members, old friends, ex girlfriends, everybody. I on the other hand have always been a bit more detached. And he let me know that. When I came back home last summer, between a class in Brazil and a (planned) working holiday in Australia, he asked me to stay for a while. He told me that he’d like that, which I didn’t know; and that we should hang out more often and start spending some time together. That was huge! (and brave). My little brother made me realize that we were lucky to have each other, but also that we could be friends. And that’s no small stuff: ten years from now I might not be in contact with my current best friend but I’ll still have my brother.

So I found a job close to home, which ironically sent me to Portugal, so I only stayed a few months with my family. But we had a blast! My brother took me clubbing in the only club there is around (and that I had not been to since I was 16 or 17… it’s France, we go early), went to village festivals, restaurants, soccer games, concerts, the beach, sledding (yeah, he lives in one of these places where you’re in a bathing suit in August and freeze your butts off by mid-November). And we talked about our lives, what we wanted to become, what gets on our nerves, our relationships, all that stuff that’s important when you like someone.

For instance, that was the first time I took the time to hear in detail his humanitarian mission in Burkina Faso, and all the plans he has for the next time he’s there. I also helped his team sort the 70 bikes we have in our garage and the indecent amount of clothes they collected to send there. They’ve done a great job and he was a big part of it, he’s great.

That’s why my birthday card to him was also a good occasion for me to tell him how glad I am to have spent some time with him, that I think he’s become an awesome individual and that I’m proud of him. He’s a good person to be around, I’ve noticed how he positively influences people around him. I should also have thanked him for helping me to get off my high horse and stop ignoring my family, but that’ll be for another letter.

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