Friday, October 19, 2007

The Brothers

As I adjusted to life at the Jersey shore and my old family house, I befriended three rag-tag young brothers from the end of my street. I met them at a block party one summer’s evening and the next day we went surfing together. We would be close from that point on, in varying degrees, but they would all feel like genuine brothers to me.


They’re definitely what you would call “rough around the edges.” Their clothes are often dirty or torn up. They always have scratches and bruises from one thing or another. They’re naturally athletic, always daring one another to jump over this or dive off of that. They fart, curse and their observations border on the ignorant or sublimely ridiculous.


They like explosives, laugh at stupid shit and drive any vehicle fast and well. They’re virile and pretty with lithe, toned bodies. They drink copious amounts of cheap beer. They sleep wherever they fall at the end of the day. They’re boys, barely men, with something distinctly untamed in them.


And I began to experience the feeling of having brothers – real, live, beautiful beasts of brothers, shaking cages and breaking down doors.


The biggest influence they had on me was surfing. I taught myself the basics I lived in California years ago but I was definitely beginner. The brothers took on the task of making me a serious surfer, encouraging me (loudly) to drop in on waves that seemed way too scary and intimidating. Bit by bit, they were creating a risk-taker of me. Is this what real brothers do? I like it!

Once we drove to a local surf spot at the end of the island. They were being particularly boyish, commenting on every (and I do mean every) female we passed by.


At first, I wrote it off. But it became increasingly annoying. Finally, I cracked.


“Listen, can you guys knock it off?! You sound childish and kinda fucking annoying.”


The car went dead silent. I felt relieved, took a deep breath and drank in the silence, which lasted a mere 15 seconds before one brother saw another hottie and the comments started flying again.

After dropping them off like a load of dirty laundry, I reflected on their dismissal of my request. I could have felt unheard, disrespected. But instead, I felt a strange surge of flattery. Only brothers would feel comfortable enough to disregard you so openly, right?


There was a silent vote that took place after my firm request to shut the fuck up:

They could swallow their urge to assert their heterosexuality every 5 seconds


They could continue to be themselves in front of me, as they’d always been, for better or for worse.

Even on the losing end of the vote, it felt like a win. Because they love me…and that solves a lot of problems. 


They have helped shape me into a woman who is wilder and braver. And I love them too. Probably always will.

The youngest one borrowed an oversized sweatshirt of mine years ago. He never returned it. And I let him, even though I really like that sweatshirt. Because it feels good when he wears it. It feels good on me.



Saturday, October 06, 2007

God in Little Objects

God in Little Objects

Joy! I just bought a pair of kitchen scissors. What are kitchen scissors, you ask? Well, they are scissors…but for the kitchen. And they bring joy. Because you cut stuff instead of chopping stuff. I feel fancy and adult, owning these kitchen scissors. Who would have thought such a simple tool would yield such giddy delight?

I was moderately happy when I bought my first cooler many years ago. Not kitchen scissors happy but in the same ballpark. Sort of “Oh look how responsible I am. Look! I own a cooler now. I can put food in the cooler and it will stay cool. Look at me! I’m an adult.”

I don’t feel happy about the pumpy thermos thing I bought for my coffee. I thought it would offer me something: convenience, portability of my hot coffee. But it hasn’t…or I don’t care about those features as much as I thought. It simply collects dust in the corner. It’s slowly becoming clutter. And that’s discouraging.

My cheap wetsuit makes me immensely unhappy. It’s cheap and it sucks. So every time I put it on, I remember my tendency to scrimp on things that matter to me and I feel testy. My wetsuit matters: It keeps me warm in cold water and I surf. That’s important. I hate my cheap wetsuit. It’s tight and it constricts me.

My friend at the end of the street has been acting differently. He’s a guy and I’m not and I thought we could just be friends but instead some weird “why don’t you have sex with me” vibe has developed and put a strain on us. He’s become emotionally detached and into these head games.
He’s slowly becoming a coffee pumpy thing, collecting dust in the corner.

My mother, I thought, would provide me considerably more happiness. She had a great and unusual personality. But she was pretty self-centered and depressed and dramatic and I often fell quietly by the wayside. She was the kitchen scissors I always wanted. She was the wetsuit that makes me grimace. She could have been the cooler, at least. Maybe she was. Maybe I’m just mad.

The liquid soap I bought smells of orange blossoms. Every single time I use it, it makes me feel like a child; it’s such a simple, pretty scent. I feel innocent and delicate. The wetsuit makes me angry and self-punitive. My mother should have been quieter and softer sometimes, for my sake. The guy down the street, he reads a book called The Game that teaches him nasty tricks that men can play on women so they can score.

My kitchen scissors currently provide me more happiness than he does. Which is sad because they are scissors and he is a man. He’s slowly becoming clutter. And that’s discouraging. I miss his orange blossom scent. I’m getting a new wetsuit soon but you only get one mom, constricting neckline and all. I don’t own that cooler anymore. I don’t know where it went.

My kitchen scissors are God this week. Luxurious and sharp. Amen.