It's the night before the night before Christmas, and I'm making everything ready for many of my friends to come over and have a big Christmas Dinner tommorow night. Like at Thanksgiving, I'm thinking of my family while peeling apples. For some reason, there's something about a certain type of apple that always makes me think about my brother.
I don't know why - I don't have any apple-related memories of Ken. I can't think of apple-fights or apple-picking. Maybe it's because the image I have of him in my head, even now, is of him as a kid, his face all freckled from hours in the sun, and there are certain apples that just look like they're green underneath, with too many freckles to count.
It makes me sad, though, because my brother and I aren't really close. It's a combination of factors that I usually blame on my being bratty and 12 when he moved out to univeristy, and I think those last years, when I was a horrible pre-teen with a big chip of my shoulder and he was older and had his own stuff going on have really affected our relationship ever since. I don't know that we have anything in common, really, other than a shared last name and memories of my mom's sugar cookies. We both still freckle, and we've both travelled a lot, but for different reasons. My brother is a musician - his band, I Tromboni has an album out (I dated a boy for a while who almost crashed the car we were in when I mentioned my brother was in I Tromboni. "Your brother's in I Tromboni?" "Yes, keep your eyes on the road, damn it!") and he travels with them and other groups he's involved with. I don't have a lot of the details, much to my embarrassment. I know he's been to Europe. (I, of course, travel because otherwise I'd get bored.)
So I've been standing in the kitchen, cutting up apples for pie, and wishing I did know my brother better. I wish he had a blog, for example, where I could read about him and see what he's interested in and the way our lives intersect, where that shared memory of my being 12 and stubborn wouldn't get in the way. I could just get to know him, like I have so many other people through the net.
I have people I only know through the net coming over for dinner tomorrow night - one of them I'll meet for the first time when she comes up stairs. You find those shared intersection points online. I'm certain that Ken and I have something more in common than knowing where Collington is and that Gimli is a town, not a dwarf.
People ask me all the time how I can live overseas and not miss my family. Honestly, most of the time I don't think about it. I haven't lived at home since I was 18, and my visits there have been few and far between. Mom and Dad have lived in at least one house I never saw. I don't think about it much at all. But when I do, it really strikes me that I've probably missed out on a lot. Mom told me she's not doing much with Christmas this year, and it makes me feel a bit sad. I like picturing Mom and Dad and Ken and his beloved passing around the mashed potatoes and gravy and talking about the cats and politics and what things are happening. I like imagining that sort of scene, of getting to know Ken that way, as an adult who has done these great things that I want to hear about. Maybe I'd ask him if he still gets lots of freckles in the summer, like I do, and if he remembers me when he peels apples.
Maybe next year.