My little brother turns 40 tomorrow. 40. How the hell did that happen?
40 seems like some sort of milestone. Like I should be writing a post about balloons and cake and chicken suits (xanax clan inside joke) and growth and maturity. But it’s Halloween….and tomorrow will be Dia de los Muertos. So here I sit thinking about spiders and dead ancestors and zombies and toilet papering my neighbor’s house. I don’t want to write about birthdays; I want to write about nightmares.
Coincidentally, some of my most vivid nightmares have involved my little brother.
The first bad dream that I can remember happened when I was about six. In the dream, I was holding my brother’s hands and swinging him around in a circle so fast that his feet lifted up off the ground. You know, the kind of thing your uncle or your grandpa might have done to you if you grew up before a time when parents were warned about this sort of behavior by experts who are always taking the fun out of life. I was swinging him around so fast that his whole body was parallel to the ground. We were both laughing hysterically when suddenly, both of his arms pulled out of his sockets, and he was carried away by a gust of wind. I was left holding his two arms in my hands. They looked remarkably like giant Vienna sausages.
I had another nightmare involving my brother just a few years ago. We were at someone’s house who had a very large swimming pool. I was in the kitchen cutting oranges into slices and placing them on a cobalt blue glass tray. As I walked out the door carrying the tray of oranges, I saw a shadow in the pool. I got to the edge of the pool, and there was my brother’s body – floating under the water, hair streaming, eyes open. I dropped the tray, which shattered on the cement, and shards of blue glass and orange slices lay all around my feet. I tried to scream, but no sound would come out of my mouth.
They’re not always nightmares, but I often have dreams about my brother. We’ve always been close, and now that he’s in New York, I miss him and his whole family – a lot.
It seems strange to write a Happy Birthday message after a post about nightmares, but I guess that’s the way I’m rolling this Halloween. Little brother, I hope you have a wonderful birthday filled with love, laughter and lots of beer. I hope you raid the nephews’ treat bags for the biggest chocolate bars and stay up past 9 p.m. Most of all, I hope your forties bring you what they have for me: a gratitude for all that you have – even when it doesn’t feel like much, an appreciation of the people who make your life beautiful and the ability to care even less about what petty assholes think of you.
Happy, happy birthday. And many, many more.