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Spectra Fraternal
The Dime
wilowisp
I do not remember my reaction to the events that took place 25 years ago today. In my defense, I was not yet 3 myself, and memories from that time are all hazy recollections of color and stillness. I do remember being at my cousins' house, playing in the converted attic, a poster of whales and dolphins tacked to a blue wall, a spinning mobile. That is all I have to mark the day – a slow turning mobile against blue, and so that is the color I give his birthday.

At some point, I imagine I met my newborn brother. Seems like the logical conclusion given our history. But I do not remember that first meeting. I don't remember the first time I held him, or said his name. It never seemed particularly distressing, to be missing these moments. He was not and then he was, a simple truth for a simple kid like me. And really, there are only two moments I recall from before the day he was born.

He is in those two earliest memories, and the stark gap that separates them. He is hidden, though, and touches just on the edges. A month or two before his difficult birth, and I am being dressed by my mother, she in a blue nightgown with her hair still sleepy. Then the gap, so absolute it is almost a memory itself. Right on its heels, I am sitting on my parents' bed, my mother frantic on the phone, the walls of their room so blue. A car passes on the street.

My earliest memory of him alone is blue as well, but colored by things yet to come. Peering around a corner on the stairs, seeing him happily rocking on the floor, infant, newborn, brother. My mother is at her sewing machine, the hectic beat of a needle occasionally filling the room. I do not move. (There is always stillness) Brain tells me the carpet was brown back then, that the wide ocean blue didn't come until we were both old enough to leap into it, laughing and free. Memory doesn't listen to Brain, and I see him, small child in a wash of blue.

He got the blue room in the new house as well, decorated for a time with things of the sea – shells and pictures of dolphins and bottles of sand. Eventually the ocean was torn down for things of metal and light, but such new things were still hung on a background of soft waves.

There was the summer that our family drove around Lake Superior. The interior of the family minivan was blue, and our parents took out the middle seats, laid down an azure carpet remnant, and we flitted about and slept and grew bored and laughed at each other in our little blue carriage. We were small then, because it seemed like a vast expanse inside that van.

Despite all this, I do not think of my brother as blue. Once he was bright yellow, the color of his room in our first house. That yellow spills itself into every mental picture I have of him from our childhood. It paints the road I walk down when I think of his bed, now his desk, now his toys, now his crooked, toothy smile – it leads from the time he fractured his collar bone all the way to every Saturday morning spent in the hide-a-bed couch.

Now he is khaki and beige, the sandy colors of canyons and well-traveled roads. He is made of the colors that haunt the badlands, the off-white of sun-on-bone. There is the occasional gleam of a jewel tone, especially in the eyes. Especially in the blood.

But his birthday is blue. And I wish I had a scrap of memory to justify this - the first blanket they wrapped him in, or the tile on the hospital room floor, or the first look of his blue eyes. Instead I just have a spinning mobile and a nightgown, a blue bedroom and a misremembered carpet - all things that orbit him, but do not contain him.

I think that's ok. We circle each other, shared momentum keeping us close but never colliding. Maybe its our relationship that's blue, even as he blazes his nomad's trail in sepia and bronze and I linger in soft gray. And that blue stretches back to the very beginning of my memories. I don't remember a time before blue, a time before my brother.

I do not remember my reaction to the events that took place 25 years ago today. I hope I was excited, or awed, or proud, but it doesn't matter, because I'm all of those now. What I do remember has shaded my life forever in blue - a life, that if memory were to be believed, only truly began once my brother was a part of it.

Wouldn't have it any other way. Happy Birthday, Trevor.

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