Happy Birthday

Looking back at my previous entries made me realize one thing – I haven’t posted in over a month. There’s no better time than now to write, though; I’ve been fighting a bout of insomnia, and just had one of the most enlightening talks I’ve ever had with my brother.

Those who really know me know that I really look up to him; he’s not only my brother, he’s the very reason why I’ve been so enchanted with writing. I already mentioned briefly about how my brother’s writing got me interested in doing it as well, but I never said how powerful his influence was. To many impressionable young kids, a brother four years your senior is the closest thing you have to a role model (aside from superheroes and cartoon characters). When I was younger, my brother would write and write and write, and he’d get praise from his teachers and my parents for his skills as a wordsmith. The pride my parents took in his writing made putting good sentences together like the ultimate achievement. To me, writing was, in layman’s terms, the shiznit.

So I grew up reading his work and wanting to write like him. For a while, I did my best to copy his style and pass it off as my own. Whatever I did, though, it never really came out as good as his stuff, so I decided to stop trying and develop my own voice. Writing grew to be my passion, and it’s led me to where I am now.

Where I am now is sitting in front of my laptop a few hours after my brother’s birthday ended. There was some impromptu get-together held at my second-favourite source of foreign beers in the country, but I couldn’t go because of A)work, and B)budget. I also found out about it pretty late – around 10pm – and I really had my hands tied. I figured I could make it for my brother’s real birthday celebration on Saturday, but then I found out my sister and mother were going.

This was an unexpected hitch. See, my mother believes that familial obligations are of the highest priority, and I’d agree with her on most nights. It’s just that too many circumstances were going against me, and I really wouldn’t have been able to make it (the bar is pretty far from my place). The fact that my mother was going, though, meant that I had to force the issue and go, or else face her wrath; “wrath”, in this sense, meaning “life-long guilt trip from Hell”. I’ve always felt like the failure son in her eyes, and this incident would have only reinforced that image.

But here’s just how awesome my brother is – he completely understood my predicament, AND he reasoned it out with my mother. This is a man who, on his own birthday, dealt with familial drama that didn’t directly involve him. On his very birthday, he defended me.

I found out about this when he came home, drunk but very much awake. I greeted him, and then apologized profusely for my absence. What he did next was just amazing to me – he started going on and on about how he kept defending me against my mother, in front of everyone at the establishment. When she complained about my absence, he told her that he didn’t find it a problem; and if he didn’t find it a problem, it shouldn’t be an issue. When she insisted that I simply didn’t value family as much as they did, he told her that she didn’t really know me that well. When she got drunk and started complaining about my career choices, he told her to have faith in my ability, just like he did.

At some point in his passionate recounting, I asked him if he’d like to cap the night off with a final birthday scotch. He happily agreed, and we relocated to the dinner table. Once we had our glasses, he continued talking about how much he believed in me, and about how much it kills him that no one else in this family seems to do the same.

That’s just the guy my brother is – he’s one of the most incredibly selfless individuals I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. He spent most of the closing hours of his birthday making ME feel good about myself. He went on and on about enjoying my blogs and hearing me ramble on and on about anything and everything at the end of the day. He told me about how he wished he could do what I was doing, and that he had complete and utter faith that I could do it well. For one night, he made me feel the opposite of what I felt all my life – I felt worthy of admiration this evening.

Despite all that ego-boosting, he closed by thanking me. He told me that talking with me salvaged what might have been one of the more depressing birthdays of his life – although he had a great time with his friends, there was the shadow of a quarter-life crisis looming overhead and a mother who just wouldn’t stop bringing up familial drama. Talking to me, he said, made him feel like he had family more than the physical presence of the others did.

Afterwards, I told him my piece about how he was the original inspiration for what I do, about how I think his own noble selfishness sort of cheats him out of pursuing writing, and about how talented and smart and good he is for being that unselfish. Like every nice guy, he took it with a grain of salt. He probably won’t remember much of it until he reads this post.

We continued well into the wee hours talking about the fun random things people talk about when they’ve had a little too much scotch – sexuality, comics, software development, friends, relationships, work, beer as the reason for civilization, and Japanese exploitation movies from the 1970s, among others. When his eyes started doing the “will we or won’t we close?” dance, I suggested calling it a night. He happily agreed.

This was perhaps one of the best talks I’ve had with my brother, even if he was probably only half-sober. Heck, it was one of the best times I’ve had with him, period. I’m really happy that he enjoyed it too, and that he had a pretty good end to his birthday, despite my earlier absence. He may not see me in any pictures from the celebration, but at least he’s got these thousand or so words.

Happy birthday, Mart.

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