Sunday, August 26, 2012

A trip down memory lane

I just got back from Disney World. This was a trip we intended to take with Michael and Jen, so it was hard that he was not there.

Back in 2002, Christina and I signed up for the Disney Vacation Club - it's a timeshare, more or less, that works on a point system. We usually go every other year and stay in a two-bedroom suite, so the kids have their own room. This time, since we were intending to have another couple along, we booked a "grand villa" which has three bedrooms, a dining room, a living room, a tv area, three bathrooms, a laundry room and a full kitchen. It's bigger than most NYC apartments, I think - more than 2100 square feet, which is as much finished square footage as my house.

It's way too much space for four people, which reminded me of who I was missing. That wasn't all bad - yes, I'm still grieving, but I was also reminded of Michael and the trip we shared back in 2005.

When he was going through his second divorce, we spent a lot of time talking, and had made plans to take a trip to Disney together. He'd never been there, so I was going to get to play native guide, which is something I enjoy doing. I made the room and dinner reservations (with a lot of assistance from Christina), and he booked a flight to Orlando. We were really looking forward to it, since we were not seeing each other much, with him living in Colorado and me in Minnesota.

In between making the plans and taking the trip, though, his plans changed a bit. He was in his second motorcycle accident, which gave him some minor brain damage. Just enough that he had a hard time concentrating, making it hard for him to work full-time. It turns out that concentration is important for working as a communications specialist, researching and writing for publications. So he decided to make a life change, move back to Minnesota and return to school to get his BA in English and then pursue a Master's in education, intending to become a teacher.

So as it happened, he spent a week in Colorado packing his house (with Mom's help), then put her on a plane back to Minnesota, flew to Florida to spend four days at Disney with me, then flew back to Colorado, got into a truck and met me at my house two days later. Wild.

Our time at Disney was fun. I hadn't been there without kids since my kids were born (that's 1998-99 for those of you who don't know me), and it's a different experience as an adult. We spent our first evening at the bar in the Animal Kingdom lodge, which was a new thing for me. Not spending an evening at a bar - I've done that plenty of times - but spending an evening at a bar in Disney World. That was new.

We saw Off Kilter play in Canada at World Showcase, and I think Mike bought one of their albums. We stopped to see Matsuriza play in Japan, spent afternoons idly wandering through the shops, and had a great time.

One of the things about being a sibling is that you can communicate on many levels. We didn't need to talk in order to communicate, although we did plenty of talking. Our second day, we had dinner at Rose & Crown, and I learned about the way bangers & mash was served at the pub Mike went to with the Centennial Pipe Band on his Scotland trip - with the sausage "sticking up in a rather suggestive way" from the mashed potatoes.

We had an awesome dinner at House of Blues, with the best soundtrack I could have imagined - for whatever reason, they had an 80s new wave marathon going on, and we were reliving our childhood and talking about the albums we bought and the concerts we attended.

It was a great trip, and I'm glad I got to share it with my brother.

I wish I could have one more.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Dark companion

There's a song by Tuxedomoon called "Dark Companion" which Michael and I played on our radio show at Macalester back in the 80s. It's a dark, jangly kind of a song, which suits my mood rather well. Here's a link, if you care to check it out.

I thought of it not long ago, as I was musing about the specter of grief that I carry around with me. It's odd, but sometimes grief is elusive.

I know it's there - it sneaks up on me when I am driving, or walking, or doing any of a thousand ordinary things. I have that moment when I realize that my brother is gone, and I feel the tears welling up. Sometimes - when I am driving, most often - I put it aside, because I don't have time for it. Other times, I try to let it come to me, so that I can come to terms with it, and I find that it... slips away.

It's like this dark companion, hanging around at the edge of my perception. Some of the color of the world goes away, and some of the warmth. There's a hole in my world.

I miss my brother.