By: Lauren Jankowski
He’s the light-haired, dark-eyed Swede.
I’m the dark-haired, bright-eyed Irish/Cherokee mutt.
To look at us, nobody would guess that we were related in any way, much less siblings. We look nothing alike. When I was in elementary school, I frequently had people tell me that it must be so much easier for me than for my brother because I look somewhat like my family with my dark hair. He, being blond, obviously didn’t fit in the picture. Yeah, kids are great when it comes to tact. We’ve never been able to fool anyone. We never thought to try. Yet despite the very noticeable physical differences, our personalities are frighteningly similar at times.
We’re both atheists, democrats, and cynical to the bone. We don’t enjoy crowds, gatherings, or get-togethers and much prefer to be left on our own. Growing up in a fairly outgoing Roman Catholic family, we were the peculiar ones in the happy-go-lucky holidays. You’d think this would lead to some sort of camaraderie in our impressionable years. It did not.
When I found out my parents were bringing home another kid, I threw a tantrum. Being five years old at the time, that was pretty much my response to everything that I didn’t like. My parents kept insisting that a baby brother would be a present for me, a blessing in my life. I was skeptical and that skepticism only grew when I wasn’t even allowed to name him. I wanted to call my new baby brother Jack. They settled on Michael. I hold my choice was better and Mike agrees with me.
As Michael grew up, we had some of the nastiest, all-out, brutal battles imaginable. Sibling rivalry doesn’t even begin to approach the kinds of fights we had growing up. It was war, plain and simple.
Eventually, we both grew up and matured. Sometime around my teenage years, I realized having another person around wasn’t so bad. Well, except when he would have his friends over. I’d be trying to write and was constantly interrupted by the raucous video game parties they held every weekend!
Today, I’m closest with my brother. We’ve gone from bitter enemies to allies fighting for survival in the trenches of family holidays. Being the only atheists, and by extension, open to the idea of scientific explanations and solutions, we’re the lone wolves. Michael has a better grasp of science and math than I do and I frequently find myself seeking his help when trying to explain why someone’s argument is illogical. I’ve learned so much from him, just listening to his explanations.
He’s my toughest critic, my only one at the moment, and nothing gets sent out without his once over. He’s got an amazing grasp of literature and even though we don’t always agree, he can at least give me a coherent argument about why something doesn’t work. His criticism gives me something to think about, even when I don’t agree with it.
There are still some things that we don’t see eye-to-eye on. When I see something as sexist, he usually sees it as merely old-fashioned. He doesn’t think our genders affect the way our family treats us –such a male opinion. He is much better at social situations than I am. Where he can hide his disdain for someone, I’ve never learned how. I sometimes seem like the younger sibling, despite being five years older. Still, I know he always has my back and I have his.
Michael will be going back to college soon and I find myself hoping that he applies to the college that I attend. Being much older than most of the student body, I’ve found myself feeling out of place. Having my younger brother would give me another person to interact with. Neither one of us is a fan of academic settings, probably because of our dislike for crowds.
I find that we seem a lot closer than most siblings, in our own quirky way. Is it because we are the only two adopted people in our family? Perhaps. Or maybe we’re just two of a kind. Whatever the reason, I wouldn’t trade him for the world.
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Originally published on The Seattle Lesbian
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