Whenever the world seems to consume me and I feel as though I am drowning in the external pressures of life, I call my older brother. It wasn't always that way though... for the longest time we were strangers; never really connecting or relating.
He left for college when I was about 14, remained out of state after school, and then immersed himself in his career and avoided family as best he could. We certainly missed the part in a sibling relationship where we kept in touch, grew together and saw how our personalities and ideologies changed.
I often resented him, feeling as though he had taken something from me that was supposed to be mine—a relationship, a mentor, the older brother I loved so much when I was a child. After a couple of years at his post-college job he abandoned his career and joined the Peace Corps spending 3 years in Cameroon.
When he returned, he was less uptight, and far more unkempt than I remember him being. I found it refreshing, because I had always been the rebel and he on the straight and narrow. For once, now as adults, we seemed to align as eclectic and creative people.
He returned just as I was transitioning in my life and we both ended up staying at our childhood home. We were both struggling with being under the same roof as an entire family for the first time in about 10 years. I think that we both did it with the idea in our minds—consciously or unconsciously—that we would aim to repair something in the family dynamic and heal our frayed relationship.
Chaos hit our parents’ home. A hurricane destroyed a small barn and caused half of the yard to float away, then a freak snowstorm caused severe land disasters, leaving the house without power for 8 days.
My parents were forced to take up residence in a small apartment for a week, and my brother and I followed. It was one of the most emotionally stressful times that our family ever experienced, but it helped us grow closer and value the important things in life: each other.
Though my work kept me away from the house a lot and my brother was back and forth between NYC and home looking for work, it wasn't easy for us to handle that much family time crammed in one house again. Through this he and I grew close rather quickly, clinging to each other in an effort to keep from going crazy.
We both came to realize that we had a vast amount in common and were really very similar in our thinking and behavior—it was like getting a new best friend. Through adversity we had managed to give our relationship a full revival and repair all that had been damaged.
Eventually things calmed down at the house, my brother landed a great job in SoHo and moved to Brooklyn, and I followed. We took trips together and spent evenings and weekends hitting up the best bars, trying all the restaurants and food that we could. We were close, like children, only in a new way.
After a few months, I moved to Israel and his new girlfriend replaced me as his roommate, despite the distance, our closeness never faded. Years later he still lives in Brooklyn and I split my time between the Middle East and the East Coast, but we see each other every chance we can get. As luck would have it, the addition of my husband and my brother’s partner have only made our little group four friends instead of two.
What I learned from that experience, being forced to reconnect with my brother, was that no relationship is ever so far gone that it cannot be rekindled, especially if it’s your sibling. No matter the rift, you cannot wash away years of shared memories, a childhood home, and two loving parents, all of which made us both who we are today.
So if you are given that perfectly placed moment in time with someone you’ve drifted away from—whether it’s a few hours or a few weeks—take advantage of it. You never know how close you could be to reviving and renewing something wonderful.
By. Leilani Rose
Leilani is a writer and editor based out of the New York City area. She has always had a love for travel, which was deepened by spontaneous adventures and culturally immersed years living abroad. When not writing, she enjoys traveling to new places and trying new food with her husband, yoga, and deciding which country to visit next. She believes that “yes” often leads to great adventures.