When we were young, my brothers and I were very close. The house was so small, we had little choice.
We moved a lot when we were kids, so we tended to see each other as playmates as much as anything, even though we were 5 and 5 years apart, me being the eldest. My brothers were constants in a sea of change.
At our youngest, spending time together was easy. Scott and I would use Shawn as cannon-fodder for any number of experiments, and he would respond as though it was great fun. The fact that Shawn did not die in childhood or does not suffer the after-effects of brain damage today is a testament to the strength and resiliency of the human skull.
As we got older, though, the strengths and directions of our individual personalities began to interfere with our genetic and social bond. I was the studious, overly verbose nerd. Scott was the quiet and reserved one; the observer. Shawn was the independent freedom fighter.
What were once common goals became more fractious, and as Shawn became older, he began to realize that his lot in life didn’t have to be guinea pig, and with his fiery temper, he in fact became a weapon of filial destruction. Only my decadal seniority kept him from killing Scott, who wasn’t always in my good books.
The genetic link continued to sever as we continued to age and each of us found less reason to spend time with the others. Our interests were different. Our needs were different. And our attitudes about the other two changed.
Around the time that I buggered off to college, Shawn’s rebellious streak took solid hold and he headed across the country to do his own thing. And Scott folded more into his own world.
In one way or another, we had effectively abandoned the family unit, and more important to my mother, the family unity. I can appreciate now how hard this must have been on her, but at the time, it all sounded like mom whining.
Over the next bunch of years, I think I saw Shawn twice…both weddings, one his. I saw Scott more regularly, but a lot of it felt forced as we would often meet at my mother’s place. I can only speak for me, but it felt like we were trying to maintain an illusion of what was.
There were good interactions between us. And I like to think there was still love. But there was no friendship. Genetics just wasn’t enough.
We parted company and lives. If asked, I am confident that any two thought the third was a complete asshole.
Time passes. We evolved and continue to become the men we need to be for ourselves. And from my perspective, something great has come out of that. We have been given a second chance at friendship.
As full-grown men with our own lives, interests and goals, we have chosen to welcome each other into our lives in one way or another. It is not the bond we shared in our youth, but I don’t know that any of us are too worried about that. (Shawn’s still too big and strong to let Scott and I pile drive him into the basement floor.)
The friendship I have with Shawn is different than the one I have with Scott, but both friendships are meetings of equals. One of the only bonds we seem to share as a trio, other than our familial link to our mother, is a neurological link to alcohol (damn, that’s one hell of a pub tab).
Shawn is the successful restaurateur, who is still the independent freedom fighter.
Scott is the dedicated family man, who is still the observer.
I am the raconteur, wit and writer, who is still the sexiest man in town (okay fine, the studious, overly verbose nerd).
But none of these descriptions is sufficient. We are simply the men that we are.
Shawn, Scott and I are brothers by birth, but we’re friends by choice. And that’s the way it should be.