Traditionally, for me, The 17th of March has always been my “little” brother’s birthday first, and St. Patrick’s Day second. When I moved out of the house and he moved away to university, that’s pretty much the only time when, because of our distance, we could never celebrate his birthday together on the actual day. It was usually a weekend after or before, with the family, and it’d be a nice dinner with the cousins. Today was a fun one because for the first time in a while, I got to celebrate my brother’s birthday with him in his new(er) “hometown”.
I should clarify that by “little” I really mean 7 years younger. But we definitely don’t look like an obvious older brother/younger brother combination. In fact, when I would go to his hockey games — he plays defense like an enforcer: badass — all the parents would think that I was the younger brother. Maybe it’s his longer hockey hair, but either way, I’ve had my fair share of being the “younger” one. I actually named him when I was in the first grade — my mom had a different name in mind, but my suggestion was clearly better, and her planned names became his middle names — and I definitely asked my parents for a brother. We weren’t the best of friends for his first few years, but we didn’t hate each other, either. It wasn’t until he started playing drums around 7 or 8 years old that we really started to connect. Music definitely still connects us today, and it’s one of the things that made the closeness we share. He became the pro drummer — I kid you not, he can keep up with the best prog-rock drummers out there when he practices — and he also is a very talented guitarist. I pride myself in my piano and compositional and improvisational skills, but if you’re looking for a session player, I know he’s top of my list, and that’s not because he’s family.
One of my favourite things about our relationship when used to live at home are the random things that we would learn and attempt to master, just because one of us took an interest. (I’d say more of the time, it was me learning the things that caught his interest, which probably didn’t help me coming off as the big brother.) He wanted to learn how to solve a Rubik’s cube, so I wanted to learn. Then we would both try to master the craft and try to get better and better at it. He wanted to learn tennis, so I learned how to play tennis, and even though I’ve yet to beat him at it — he’s always been the athlete — I love playing tennis and definitely wouldn’t have gotten into it if he didn’t start. I started learning complex fingerstyle guitar, so he started learning the same. We both got into card magic and illusions, but he’s definitely kept up the practice. If I really think about it, I’m sure I can come up with pages of this kind of “you learn, so I learn” mimicry, and it really is how we connected growing up, and kind of how we still do today.
With us living on opposite sides of the lake, I don’t get to see him as often as I wish I could. It’s usually family events that we re-connect, such as today when we got together for his birthday on his actual birthday over in Niagara. We had a very tasty dinner with the parents and his girlfriend, and then spent a little time across the way at the casino. But we probably sat at that dinner table for an hour after we finished our meal, just talking, catching up, joking around, and sharing funny stories and photos. But it’s amazing how we can just pick up where we left off, every time that we get together, and still think in a lot of the same ways. We share a very similar sense of humour, so often times a look is all we need to crack-up in reaction to something. (His laugh is as contagious as mine, and that’s probably my fault.) And I’m always excited to be able to spend time with him, probably because of how little we get to hang out.
So here’s to you, little bro. I know you don’t really do the social-online presence thing, but this one’s for you. Have fun with all of your spring travels, and I can’t wait to laugh it up at the cottage for Father’s Day.
Happy birthday, Pat!