Monday, August 22, 2011

Photo Memories

Ah yes, the day I arrived home from the hospital. Oh what a glorious day, the house was never the same again. That's my older brother there holding me, I've taken to calling him Julio thanks to Bethany. lol. He looks so happy to be that close to me doesn't he? It took another 21 years for him to smile that close to me again. lol. That's my grandma (mom's mom) to the left of me, beaming about her 5th grandchild in what would turn out to be a list of 20 grandkids. lol.

That picture was taken in our living room. That couch lasted about another 6 years at least and that afghan is still in my parents house somewhere, maybe the attic. I believe there is also a piece of that blanket in the attic too, but I'm not sure they were the same thing, my blankey might have been from something else, I'll have to ask my mother.

My brother and I had a rough time growing up with each other. We didn't get along very well as I'm sure most brothers don't. We fought like crazy and were two completely different people. We were complete opposites and went together like oil and water. He thrived on pushing all the right buttons pushing me into a terrifying rage most of the time. Sure you'll see him again in several more pictures all smiles, but it's probably because he had just really got under my skin. To be honest, he still can, but I have a better understanding now, some 34 years later.

We fought like that until the mid ninties when he had moved out and was getting married. It was then we started talking and visiting and getting along as adults. I'm amazed at how our relationship has grown and changed over the the last 16 years since then, how we've grown closer and have grown to appreciate the adults (eek! did I just say that?) that we have become. We've gone through our own stuff but in the last 6 or 7 years we've started to go through it together, we have formed this shall I dare to say friendship that I honestly didn't expect us to.

It's all these years later that I discover how much he watched out for me growing up, defending me to the bullies in the neighborhood and sticking up for me when I wasn't around. How he beat up a kid that used to harrass me when I was walking home from school, all this behind the scenes. He still doesn't tell me many stories about it, I hear these stories from the people from the old neighborhood. Stories from his friends and sometimes when I look back at different times and situations I can see things differently.

We just never appreciated each other at the time. My friends always thought he was more fun so they would go run around with him, but then I remember the times he included me in things when he didn't have to. I remember one summer night he and our cousin Tony decided to camp out in my dad's old tent in the back yard and asked me if I wanted to join them. I was all for it. That night we got no sleep. We waited until mom and dad finally passed out from exhaustion from yelling at us to keep it down out there because their bedroom window was open and could hear everything and we took off on foot through our neighborhood. We had a pretty quiet neighborhood, we walked all over that night and ended up at the Shell Gas station at the edge of the neighborhood somewhere around 6am to get pop. We had to get back before dad woke up so at that point we headed back.

Of course when dad got up and noticed our cups from Shell we got an ear full, but it was still so much fun. It's amazing how times have changed, I would never allow my kids (if I was ever tortured with any) to sleep in my back yard in that neighborhood these days. I think about how different things were then, we knew everyone in a five block radius and they all knew us, we were related to at least half the people that lived on our street and the manager at the shell station we frequented was one of my best friend's dad, and the store on the other end of the neighborhood (which I would buy years later) was owned by family. We couldn't get away with anything, and we rarely ever did.

Baseball behind Nick's house every day during the summer, football behind Jeff's house in the fall, kick ball at our house in the side yard, bike tag up and down the streets in a five block radius, trips down to Shell to sneak packs of garbage pail kids, hours in Tony's sand box building cities, sneaking down to the family store to buy some candy only to be ratted out by our cousins that ran the place later that day when Dad would go in for his beer and newspaper. We would jump our bikes on the ramp created by the storm sewer over at Neil's house, GI Joe or cops and robbers at Shawn's house, T.V. tag at Joel and Jennifer's house.

It all feels like a hundred years ago when I think of where everyone is today, and yet it can still feel like yesterday when I put myself back there mentally. I really did have a great childhood.

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