I would like to think that I am relatively good at navigating relationships. At least those that I am not obligated to by blood. Just when you think you can’t stand the prearranged relationships that bind you to your name, someone comes along with a change of heart that forces your own growth.
My brother went and bought a Polaris ATV as some sort of expression of his manhood. At least, that’s how he put it. My father jumped in and came on scene with his little portable GPS as though they were going to go off into the middle of nowhere never to return. Family dynamics were well in play when, as the perpetual little sister, I was forbidden from their man games.
My brother has always been a tough nut for me to crack. He insists on being manly by keeping women at bay. He designs tattoo scenes that would make any mere mortal squirm with discomfort. My role in life is simple, activist related, and what I would consider to be pure. His is a total admonishment of all I believe in. Did we really come from the same family?
The two of them played their man games for every family gathering, being extra careful to exclude the weaker sex. Of course, just on principle I was able to throw quite the fit and make my own noise on the topic. I didn’t really want to join them. I just wanted them to join the 21st century.
Family has a way of knocking you off balance. Just when you know you want to scream and refuse to participate in the family based on righteous grounds, someone throws a curve ball. And you either have to catch it, duck really fast, or get hit with it. I am still not sure which one I did. My brother showed up to the next monthly dinner with what was honestly a woman too beautiful and smart for him.
My mother and I exchanged glances wondering how he landed such an attractive woman. When she spoke, she had intelligent things to say. Something had shifted in the foundation of life.
Eventually, my brother apologized for his barbaric behavior and treatment of women. While he dished out a heartfelt segue, I felt my face flush with embarrassment. For as highly as I regarded my good works in the world, I had written his chance for change and happiness off. I had discarded his ability to grow as a human being. Humbled in this lesson, I will at least retain the hope for an eventual friendship between the two of us.