Today my brother came down to the office. Since his girlfriend works here with me as well, I won’t flatter myself into thinking that he came specifically to see me. I wanted to not say anything, but I point blank and on the spot asked him about my Dark Tower Series, my Phillip K Dick and my VHS tapes. He said the Dark Tower series was in the same canvas bag he brought them back up, sitting under the makeshift bookshelf in my living room. (It was, I checked as soon as I got home.) He says he knows nothing about the Phillip K Dick (I am suspcious), and said he was sorry, all the tapes were in one place and just packed everything. Right?
Personally, as far as I am concerned, if you’re packing things, you know what’s yours and isn’t. So how does what belongs to someone else, not get discerned? Like you don’t look at what you’re packing? Does that smell like bullshit to you?
I still need to find the remaining missing books. The worst thing is, unless I can see what he has, I won’t know what is mine. When I was making up my book list yesterday, there was shit popping out at me, I completely forgot I had, so I have no idea what he could have!
The story of today continues. He wanted to bum three dollars off of me because he spent his lunch money travelling around to do something or the other, and well, he has to get home to be there when the children get home.
I kind of sighed internally. He said he needed to ‘talk to me’ in a real urgent way, so I suggested we go get something to eat, my treat.
So we went to Cesar’s in Town Centre Mall. It’s a little pricey, but the food is very good and it’s one of my favourites.
So I pick out what I want. A piece of sliced fish, some steamed veggies, some tossed salad and some sweet potato. My brother orders two huge pieces of macaroni pie, callaloo, baked chicken breast, steamed vegetables and salad in a heaping mound that was smothered in gravy. It couldn’t fit on the plate properly, it was dripping callaloo on one side and gravy on the next, and dripped all over the counter before they could get a plastic tray on it.
The woman who I have always been friendly with there, aked me, “He is really going to eat all that?”
“You don’t know what you are talking about girl, or who ya talking bout either!” I replied drolly. “My brother is a Grade A bellyist.”
Now my brother has been a bellyist all his life. As he grew up, he became worse and worse. My grandmother used to keep locks on the fridge when we were teenagers and living with her at the time. Almost everything else was kept hidden away in her bedroom. If she didn’t, she was likely to get up in the morning and find the place decimated.
My brother just ate and ate and ate and ate. All his life he has been overweight and consumed huge amounts of everything in sight. He was the kind of child, if he saw you eating, he would sit and eat too. If you had food, and didn’t want to share, you were being ‘unfair’.
The bill, when it came was something like $63. What I ordered, came up to $22. Now, my brother has no idea how much money I have in my purse. He just asked for what he wanted, and just sat down like a spoiled little child, without any regard for the ostentatiousness of his display.
When I sat down, I said to him, “You know, because somebody invites you to lunch, is not to buss ya belly.”
He pursed his lips, getting ready to defend himself.
“Do you know how much money I have in my pocket?”
And of course, we got into a heated discussion in low voices over the meal.
Okay… I know I want to get to the place where I can rise above this kind of thing. This is hard for me though. This is shit that’s been going on as long as I know myself.
At the time, I told him what I told him because you know, I felt like he was just so absorbed in himself, he gave no care as to what his epicurean adventure was going to cost, because he wasn’t paying the bill. I was expected to pay whatever it came to, because that’s what he wanted. Now, I have been paying my brother and for him my entire life.
Get it straight. I pay, he never pays. The thing that bothers me, is not the act of feeding him, or helping him, or being there for him as a sister and a loyal friend. The thing that bothers me, is that everything I have is his, everything he has is his. My brother doesn’t spend his money on me, and never has. My brother says he will do anything for me, but you know, he definite limits as to what he will do. I am expected to have none. And I’m not talking about money here, I’m talking about everything. Everything I own.
I remember all the times we have been living together, where I couldn’t even get through a day without being cussed by him, because I say things to him that hit a nerve. When I question his behaviour, point out inconsistencies in his plans, or repetition of old patterns, instead of him listening to what I am saying, as someone who knows him long enough to offer him any guidance, and doesn’t want to see him suffer, instead, somehow everything I say to him along these lines, gets interpreted as being an attack on him personally, an attempt to ‘bring him down’.
Recently, we’ve had a few conversations where I’ve said to him, “You know, you can’t keep saying those things. If that is what I was doing, do you think I would have allowed you and your girlfriend and her children to come into my home? Do you think I would have done that after the way she has treated me, you have treated me?”
He tells me, that I am always putting him down, and trying to make him feel like shit. He told me today, “You asked me to lunch, I just got what I wanted.”
You see what I mean?
“If a man asked me out to dinner, especially if I knew anything about him and his circumstances, I wouldn’t order the most expensive thing on the menu, and certainly not two helpings of it! What the fuck is wrong with you?” I asked, just blasted annoyed now.
I really was telling him these things, because I’d like him to think about me; be considerate towards me. To respect me.
I said to him, “You know I’ve watched you over the last year and how you treat your girlfriend. I think it’s been a really good thing for you, but you know, you have never given me even one tenth of the consideration you’ve given her, and what’s more, you still don’t.”
“Because she does real consider me! She does real check for me!” He replied.
“So the last ten years of my life, where I worked and paid the bills and paid your way, and fed you, made sacrifices for you…. those are things you think I’ve done that earn your respect towards me? You don’t think that’s considering you, checking for you.” I asked.
“That is something different.” He said.
“How is it different?” I asked.
I haven’t heard him give me a reasonable answer yet.
“I don’t have anyone in my life, who has done for me the things I’ve done for you!” I said. “No one! Unless you count UT, and he has his limits, believe me.”
Come to think of it, UT helped me, but he helped him too, because almost everything I did, went into being able to sustain my family’s household; the lights, water, food, telephone.
The only reason I think my brother ever did me favours, is because he had to get something out of it. He only went for cigarettes, because he knew he would get cigarettes. He only went to the grocery to get anything, if I was going to give him money to get something for him. In fact, in our relationship, I would ask him to get specific things, give him money and he would make liberal with the change or bring back only a few of the things and things he wanted.
My mother, brother and I joke… but it’s with a kind of knowledge….
The three of us can’t live on the same land mass together.
I am inclined to agree.
People say you can’t run from how you are, and I don’t want to run from my family. I don;t want to leave the Caribbean. I just think I need to.
Maybe I can find enough of who I am out there in the world, far, far away from this one, in order for me know how to make peace and handle the relationships with my brother and my mother.
They both deeply resent that I write about them. They don’t ever want to think I write down what I really feel or think anywhere.
They are both secretive, whereas I seek to write fearlessly about all that concerns and interests me on all levels.
When I was a young journalist, I wrote about my mother, my father and other members of my family, revealing my inner world in the newspaper; gleaning what wisdom a 20 year old could from my own personal tragedies. I burned away all reservations in a catharsis of revelations and observation. My family exploded, my mother railed and my father walked past me in the street.
Last year, when I was blogging about my feelings regarding the whole confusion with my brother, his girlfriend, the girlfriend’s brother… etc. etc…. I was the worst bitch in the world, because how could I say how I felt all over the Internet?
I remember writing a really impassioned entry declaring I would not be censored and I fucking meant it.