My little brother makes me feel old. He’s almost five years younger than I am, so when I went off to college he was thirteen, and I guess in my mind he’s still that age. So the fact that he graduated from college last week surprised me, just as I was surprised when he had his first girlfriend, when he told me that he voted for the first time, and when he turned 21 last summer.
When my sister got a job, when she graduated college, when she moved in with her boyfriend—none of those struck me in the same way that similar milestones in Nick’s life have. Maybe it’s because she and I are only about three years apart in age. Sometime during college I got to the point where I didn’t necessarily see Lauren as my little sister, just my sister. I am slowly getting to that point with Nick, but I still find myself taken aback at times when he does something that reminds me that he is an adult, that he is older and more mature than I think, and that if he is that old, I must be even older.
Mostly, just little things strike me. Last summer he picked me up from BART in his truck. I was home for visit before starting a new job and had been off visiting with friends. It was twilight, and he thoughtfully put music on that he thought I would like for the short ride home. Right now my mind is flooded by the memory of being in the Burbank airport with my family, right after our mom died. Nick put his arm around me in a funny sort of hug. I leaned against him for a moment, my head against his chest. For a moment, my grief was broken for a moment by the surprise that this young man was my little brother.
Now he has finished his associate’s degree in sound arts, and it will be “upgraded” to a bachelor’s degree when he finishes a long internship. I wasn’t able to fly home for the ceremony. I wish I could have. He and I aren’t very close these days, and I’m not sure we ever have been. I regret that, and I hope that as we both continue to grow up that will change. Because I’m impressed by the person he is becoming, and I'm very proud of him. I always have been—even when he was five years old and covered in “b’sgetti” sauce and when he was 16 and dyed his hair green.