Friday, September 18, 2009

Living in the Shadow

Having just gotten off the phone with my dad has given rise to another thought of topic, a sticky one but something that has a part of shaping who I am. My brother. I only have one sibling, one older brother (by one year) and it's an odd sort of love we have for one another. Best observed from a distance across the planet.
We were discussing the wedding tomorrow and (perhaps not in the best taste) I said ,' Hey, I'm only going for the food'. Understandably I was censured but I have reason for my passive-aggressive anger on two accounts. The first is that my neighbors have never shown the slightest interest in me as a person. Which makes it odd they (rather their son who is about my age) would invite us (me) to begin with. We used to get together every summer for a football/cookout and about three summers ago I was actually socializing with him and his friends. We were playing poker in the living room and having, what I thought was, a great time. Then suddenly he gets up and says , 'Me and my friends are gonna go hit the casinos. see ya' and left me staring after them thinking, WTF? What am I an afterthought?
Last spring, when I finally started to live on my own, his parents (who are realtors in the area) asked my parents if they wanted them to sell the house because its not like I was living here or anything.
How does my brother come into this? My brother is the shining poster child for Everything That Is Awesome in America. He takes risks, he socializes with ease, everybody loves him, he's aggressive, loud, drinks Budwiser, is outspoken and is always into or up to something. He's served in Iraq four times, he's a decorated hero and me, well me, I live in his shadow. I'm surprised people even know of my existance sometimes.
Of course I need to balance it out with a disclaimer of YES he is awesome, YES he deserves all the love and respect he gets, YES I love him, and oh yes I am jealous.
My neighbors remember and revere my brother. On those summer cookouts all I remember is sitting with the Grown Ups listening to them blather about whatever and my brother while rarely I would get a glance and a ,'So you're in college. When are you graduating?' then the conversation would swerve back to Iraq and the War and What My Brother is Doing for the rest of the evening. Because introverted artists are passe and uninteresting.
and art isn't really a subject anyway, more like a fluffy ball of yarn for kiddies to play with. Because its not like art ever did anything for anyone.
In the days of introverted misery when I was struggling to make it outside the bounderies of my house all I heard were conversations about my brother from my father's business associates and various family members. How was he doing, when was he coming home. I never got mentioned because mental retarded shut-ins don't deserve mentioning.
Last month when I graduated college one of my aunts called the house and this is how the conversation went:
my father: 'oh yes, she graduated. even if she got a C in that math class. they'll mail the certificate sometime.' 30 seconds hangtime. and my brother got a half hour of his travels, his serious girlfriend he met in a hotel lobby, his current tour, the house he bought, his trip out here, ect. ect. ect.
I never even got a congratulations card for four years of hard work and two years on the deans list.
This is one of my greatest wants for the future; I want recognition. I want my own group of people, my own friends, my own circle that only know me and not my brother. I want someone to say , 'Wow, you're a really good artist.' or a good writer, or a good person or a hard worker. I want someone to talk about the things I've done because I don't think its inconsequential. Someday I want my father to recognize my achievements, that even though I don't have a medal, or a piece of paper stating how great I am, coming back from that frozen wasteland of mental defeat wasn't easy. To go from shut-in to college graduate wasn't easy. To keep on going and find a job and path somewhere isn't easy. And even if it doesn't compare to fighting in Iraq its something that means a lot to me.

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