Thursday, February 26, 2009

Running away from home

When I was young, I didn't always get along with my brothers. After all, the three of us were very different.

I had the studious yet oddly controlling older brother (dubbed "cop" when we were little and "psycho" when we got older because of the leering looks we'd get as he sat in the corner, making sure we didn't screw up).

My younger brother and I were close but that made it even more challenging. I was raised to be very boy-like because of these two and all the time spent with my dad, since Mom worked. I played football, basketball, baseball and - my personal favorite - "pain". You know, where you give someone a burn with a match and see if they cry. I cried a lot when I was little, learned to save my tears for later when I got older.

But we had fun. We really, really did. Younger brother and I used to operate on his stuffed animals (thus I learned to repair just about anything because he'd always cry later when his monkey had no stuffing). We had a "Speed Racer" club in our garage with a secret handshake required for entrance. He helped me learn to love kids and made me into a great and much-in-demand babysitter.

When we argued, though, it was something to behold. We could fight like no siblings I've ever seen. He knew my soft spots and would say terrible, horrible things. Call me fat (yes, at 5'8" and 79# I was anything but - but I still hated that). I would leave cayenne pepper on his pillow. Or blow up his GI Joes with a firecracker.

But when my dad was in one of his moods, he was always there to stand by me. Sometimes he even defended me. It may never have happened at school when I got picked on (for being a brainiac and making everyone else look bad...) but at home, where it really mattered, he was there.

Once, I decided to run away from home. I couldn't tell you what had transpired to make me think this was a good idea, but I did it anyway. Packed my favorite teddy bear and some crackers in a blanket and wrapped it on a stick. I was all about effect, after all, and I wanted to look like I was running away. I ran all the way to my next door neighbor's back yard. I hid under her squirrel feeder near her garage, made myself a comfy spot in the sun and proceeded to fall asleeep - still a favorite pasttime when I'm stressed.

It never occurred to me that they'd actually miss me or that I'd sleep until after twilight - the rule being that you had to be home when the streetlights came on. It was summer, so it had to have been about 9:30 when I awoke with a start. To find my little brother sitting next to me, waiting for me to wake up. He'd followed me over shortly after I'd fallen asleep and stayed with me so the raccoons didnt pee in my hair (or so he said). He risked a major spanking by staying out late but told me he wasn't going to leave. He didn't wake me up. He left me in peace and watched over me.

As an adult, I've rarely had that feeling of safety that my little brother used to give me. I think part of it is a lack of expectation on my part. I'm a tough girl, I don't need anyone, I'm just fine, thank you. I have been through a lot and came through most of it with a good attitude and hope for the future. But that doesn't mean that it wouldn't feel nice to have a sentry now and then.

Maybe one of my wish list items should be that feeling of security that's been missing. That knowledge that, no matter what, I know someone watches over me when I sleep. Has my back. Is quietly there, ready to hit any raccoons over the head that come near. Will stand up to someone else for me. Just because I don't need it doesn't mean I don't want it.