months ago, i had watched this video of sarah kay performing a poem she’d written for and about her younger brother.
i thought it would be fitting to include in a post that i was going to write a week before the wedding. but then, it happened, in the blink of my teary eyes, my brother got married.
weddings are so different up close. from where i stood, behind the bride, i got maybe half a glimpse of the officiant but a pretty good view of my brother. it was fascinating to watch him get emotional and regain his composure as he pledged his troth.
though he’s younger than i am, he’s taken on the role as the older brother, especially as we’ve gotten older. i remember waking up one night to the sound of dinnerware colliding with the kitchen floor, and my parents shouting at each other.
i was scared out of bed and sat on the floor in the tiny hallway on the 2nd floor where our room was. i gripped the bannister, wishing and waiting for the detente, wondering if i should descend and intervene.
my brother was the one who sat beside me, doing his best to console worried little me. if he was just as alarmed and concerned, he certainly hid it well. or maybe he saw that there was enough fear from me.
the wedding was a commencement of a covenant. but it was also the culmination of phase I of my brother’s personal growth.
(disclaimer: i’m not saying that my brother getting married made him a grown up or made him grow up, or that being married makes you a more complete person — that latter part is something i gotta preach to myself at varying frequencies. what i am suggesting is that ideally, one enters marriage having reached a certain threshold of maturity. now back to our regularly scheduled programming.)
it’s kinda fun to compare mom’s not so quiet wishes for the day when her kids would “get out of my house” with her warm, almost effusive welcomes whenever my brother and sister-in-law visit. i think it’s mutual, somehow marriage has turned my brother into a bit of a mama’s boy–i mean, man.
not that he’s become a complete old fart. when he’s asked how married life is, he likes to quip, “terrible.” nevertheless, twenty-some years later, it is my brother who lamented about the near-impossibility of buying a house in new york city, and brainstormed with mom and dad about doing away with the house we live in now to build a new house.
as the married folk strategized about architecture and moving outside of new york city for retirement (but-wait-we-need-you-to-babysit-because-daycare-is-expensive) and threw around words like “mortgage,” “down payment,” “school district,” and “borrowing from 401k” , i sat and listened, feeling a little bit like the kid who got left back in three too many times.
it’ll be another undefined number of years until i’ll be able to contribute to my dormant retirement account. and nothing screams “date me!” quite like a thirty-something soon-to-be law student/aspiring public interest attorney who lives with her parents. and i wondered, even as a poor lawyer with little to no law school debt, if i’d be able to afford to live without roommates.
then i heard my brother argue for a multi-family dwelling so that i too might get in on the homeownership action, slowly but surely.
the 동생 becomes the caring 오빠.
if/when mom & dad do move away, i’m sure my brother & sister-in-law wouldn’t hate having their future children’s
favorite 고모 and the first attorney in the family free babysitter living next door.