The textures of brotherhood, in their yin and their yang, are buried very deep and out of sight. Rather like one’s skeleton one knows those textures are there; but one is happy not to see them in the way one might be happy to be spared ever seeing one’s skeleton. The sight and the experience of it would be very disturbing indeed.
While my father jokingly called me son number one, the second son is my brother number one. Brother 1 and I shared the same space or bedroom for about 15 years. Shared is not quite the right word; rather we inhabited it as two young monkeys might the same tree. While the tree provided shelter and sanctuary for both, we sat on very separate branches. He tended to his business and I tended to mine. Through long and unconscious practice we learned how not to get in the other’s way.
He did not tell me about his day and I did not tell him about mine. While we caught diseases from each other and endured the other’s farts, we did not talk to each other about our worries, concerns, or ambitions. We did not talk either about the old lady or the old man or our other brothers when they came along. We had some of the same teachers in high school, but we did not talk about them. We both liked to read but we didn’t discuss what we had read. Nor did we talk about world affairs or the latest scientific developments.
He attended the same college that I attended. We lived at or around the same school and for those two year I don’t think we dropped in on each other no more than a couple of times. After that I had a nervous breakdown around the time he got married and started a family.
He was my mother’s favorite. As I believe I may have mentioned, I know this because my mother told me so. By the time my brother appeared, my mother had concluded that our father was not a proper man and that, consequently, she had to start over. I accordingly was to be my father’s son, since I suppose she had decided not to abandon me by the roadside and my brother was to be her son. My mother says that for the first 2 or 3 years of his life I followed my younger brother around as if he were the older brother and I the younger.
I don’t know if this is true or not (especially since the old lady’s primary purpose in life seemed to have been the emasculation of her boy children), but if it is true I suppose I did so to get whatever crumbs of affection that might come my way. The affection and attention that she gave to my brother and took from me accordingly was not compensated for by increased attention from my father, my mother having apparently failed to inform him that I was now “his” son.