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Entries in brother (2)


The Long Goodbye

popsicles and abandon on the back porch last summerEzra started calling Ed my brother when they were three.  Ezra and Ed, and later, Ed's sister Reece, converged on the sidewalk in front of our houses innumerable afternoons over the past four years, learning to  toddle, tricycle, scooter, ride bikes.  We parents sat in the shade of the giant old maple tree watching the kids wear a groove in the sidewalk. When I found out last month that Ed and his family were moving, I went into a tailspin. 

I was supposed to have another baby and I forgot and now it's too late and Ed's moving and now Ezra is going to be alone forever!

That hysteria mostly waned in the ensuing weeks, but it helped if I tried not to notice the growing tower of packed boxes through their dining room window.  It's not fair to say I'm so sad every time you run into your neighbors on the sidewalk.

I want a brother, Ezra told me recently.  Apparently he knows which button to push to send me into paroxysms of self-reproach. 

Do you want a brother like Cooper? I asked him later, as our friend's three-month-old played on the floor.

No, Ezra said.  I want Eddie to live with me.  Like me, Ezra doesn't relish the thought of a baby around here.  Like me, he wants the insta-fun of developmentally appropriate friends.  Is it too much to ask for the new mystery neighbors to have a five-year-old boy?

A windstorm last October brought a huge piece of their old maple crashing into our yard.  A tree service took the rest of it a few days later.  No more meeting place.  No more shelter from the hot summer sun.  Maybe that old tree was the ballast and without it, it was inevitable that one of our families would fly off into space. 

During our last-hurrah gathering, all the grown-ups tried to huddle in the shade of the small Catalpa that's left.  We gave up and moved the party into the back yard where the space was shadier, if less communal.  The kids stripped down completely, tearing through the house and yard with unselfconscious abandon for hours.  They partied like it was their last night together, and maybe it was. 

We adults don't have that kind of freedom, but we have beer and sappy speeches, and wiped-away tears.  We have all the customary things to say: We'll stay in touch.  I hope your new commute is easy and your new neighbors are great.  We'll come crash your pool some time. 

What we mean is

Don't forget us.

We'll miss you.

Thank you for growing up with us.

I hope we're not alone forever.


How to Look Ridiculous (But Not Care At All)

One from the archives: a suggestion from Center Camp at Burning ManA short list of things that don't usually go together:



a large room of people

a DJ spinning electronic music


sobriety (bears repeating, since it's so unlikely)

I list these as justification for my anxiety about attending Rhythm Sanctuary last week.  My brother has attended this weekly ecstatic dance gathering for about a year, and has been inviting me for nearly that long.  Which is to say I have resisted going for almost a year but finally, last week, I could think of no good reason not to go.

While I'm on lists, here are some fears I had:

I will look stupid

I will feel stupid

I am not a good dancer

I am not one of those people

I will hate the music

The dance was already underway when I got there so I nervously kicked off my shoes and took note of the guidelines posted outside of the dance floor.  My favorite: no talking on the dance floor.  I relaxed a little bit, knowing that I wouldn't be expected to try to socialize, sober, while dancing.

Here is who I saw when I walked in:


a guy in a Burning Man t-shirt

a white-beared man, probably in his 80s, sitting in a chair with a cane


families with children (an infant with a glow stick around his ankle)

a guy in a wheelchair



a guy with an oxygen tank in a backpack

Most everyone was dancing, a lot alone, some in pairs or groups.  Some sat around the edges watching.  Some sat in meditation or prayer at some pillowed, futoned areas. The music was loud and rhythmic, which meant there was no reason not to at least try to dance.  So I did.

Here is what happened:

I got my heart rate up

I noticed my judgements rising up, and noticed they were mostly about myself and my fear of being ridiculous

I noticed that everyone else seemed to be dancing without fear of looking ridiculous and let my self-judgment fall away (though in the spirit of full disclosure, I will say that the judgment came and went in waves)

I started to move according to what my body seemed to want to do - oh my ankles really want to stretch.  oh I kind of feel like jumping. oh that bass line makes me feel like doing this - instead of moving according to what might look cool

I didn't talk to anyone

I didn't dance with anyone

I stopped thinking

The combination of blood pumping, ankles stretching, and suspended thought helps me understand why my brother calls this gathering a medicine.