When we were kids, my little brother Chase and I hated eachother. We fought constantly and ferociously, barely even able to stay in the same room for any extended period of time. I'm not sure where the loathing came from - I don't know that one of us ever gave the other a real reason to be so angry. Sure, we picked on eachother, and told on eachother, but we never committed sins great enough to warrant such wrath.
Chase is 6 years younger than me. Born premature, he was teeny tiny when we first brought him home, and I made it my duty to be the best big sister I could. I learned how to change his diaper, I pushed him around in the stroller and I did my best to take care of my new little brother. He was so small and delicate. I adored him.
But then he grew up and somewhere, something changed. We moved from Hopkinsville, KY to Las Vegas, NV when I was 11, and our relationship didn't survive the relocation. Our demise started slowly...At first it was just a few commands to "shut up" or "stop touching me." Harmless sibling rivalry. But it began to morph and change and take on a life of its own. We started to detest even looking at eachother, choosing to make faces rather than say anything pleasant. Rules were made at the house to keep us from torturing one another. "You are not allowed to go into eachother's rooms without permission," my mother said. "You have to knock, and you have to be told it's okay to go inside. Chase, if you want to go into Laurie's room for something and she's not home, you'll either have to wait or ask me to go in for you." This came after a series of vandalism attacks committed in my absence: silly string covering my precious CDs, random items stolen from my bookshelves, the scattering of my precisely placed makeup, and gross things - like fake rats and clumps of hair - hidden beneath my pillow. I retaliated by stealing GI Joes, hiding his beloved video games and excluding him from any activity in which I was involved and thought he may enjoy.
During my senior year in high school, the fighting escalated. My father had taken a job in New York and had to leave immediately, so my mom, brother and I stayed behind in Vegas so that I could finish my senior year. My mom worked until late in the day, leaving my brother and I to our own devices between the hours of 3 and 6. What would almost always begin as a fight about the TV or an after-school snack would accelerate into an all-out war. After the name-calling and the door slamming would come the physical altercation: A series of shoves and near punches that would invariably end with me pinning my little brother to floor to avoid being hit. I'd sit on top of him, stifling his kicking legs with my own, and restraining his flailing arms with my hands until my mom came home.
Back then, he was small and skinny. He was short, no muscles on his pre-pubescent arms and easy to overtake. Now, he's a muscular man, well beyond my five feet and nine inches in height, who has been a football player and will be an officer in the Army. For me to pin him to the floor now would be impossible. But I haven't even fought with him in years.
Somewhere along the line, we became friends. And not just friends, but best friends. I call him Scorpion and he calls me Sissy. We share all of our stories, gripes, complaints, successes. He can make me laugh like no one else in the world can. He's a freshman in college now, and I'm overwhelmed by how proud I am of him. I tell everyone that my brother is a cadet at Norwich University, a military academy. He's been home from school for about three weeks and will be leaving tomorrow, and I've been fighting tears all day, wondering what I'll do without him when he's gone. Who watch ridiculously pointless movies with me? Who will make me laugh until tears pour from my eyes and I can no longer breathe? Who will go with me to Wal-Mart when I just need to get out of the house? I can't believe I don't want him to go...I can't believe how much I'll miss him.
I worried once that we would never be friends - I was truly terrified that we'd grow up and grow apart and never talk, save for holidays and birthdays. Recently, I told my dad how worried I'd been that I'd never get along with Chase. In his sweet southern drawl he said, "Aw, I never worried much about that. You guys may have fought like cats and dogs, but God forbid anybody picked on one of you guys - The other one would run right after 'em and give 'em hell. I think that was a pretty good sign. You didn't always get along, but you always loved eachother."
He may not be small and delicate anymore, but I still want to help take care of him.
I adore him.