I’ll be straight with you; part of what amuses me about the prospect of writing about my brother is the likelihood that he’ll never know about it (if I’m wrong, hey Todd!).
So it’s Christmas time, and I’m going home on Thursday to the Boston area for the first time in a year, and I get to hang out with my lovely parents and grandmother and recently matriculated brother.
I’m excited to hear what’s up with him, because he’s just finally done the thing I did when I graduated: Moved to a new city with a friend, without a job or any solid prospects. And I know that’s really hard sometimes, even when you’ve got support and you’re somewhere that has a much higher likelihood of making what you want happen than your parents’ basement.
Okay, so Hoboken isn’t quite the Chicago of the East Coast, and a passion for consulting and management isn’t quite the same as a passion for theatre. For one thing, only one of those pursuits pays well. For another, it’s a lot harder to get into the other one. Ooh, look at me, I’m so cryptic, I bet you’ll never be able to decipher which I’m talking about!
I’m also interested because somehow, with thousands of miles between us, when I moved to Chicago I found that I was becoming more like my brother than I’d ever expected. This is hyperbolic, because we’re not actually that different. He likes cars and comedy and business, I like art and comedy and writing, but we’ve always gotten along, more or less. The thing that surprised me was that I started being interested in business. I was reading a lot about starting theatre companies and other artistic small businesses, and I had the revelation that when the business stuff has to do with promoting the thing you love, it’s suddenly fascinating. My parents, and especially my brother, were pretty surprised.
Now I’m a successful (?) entrepreneur at 24. With help from my collaborators, I’ve started a not-for-profit corporation that’s registered in the state of Illinois and with the IRS, that has a bank account, that will have to file taxes if we don’t get our 501(c)3 status in time (ugh, I have to fill out that paperwork tonight). We happen to put on plays, but it’s a business, and I’m reminded of that every time I get another credit card offer to “Underscore Theatre Company, c/o Laura Stratford.” If given a choice between me and my brother as to who would have started a business first, I don’t think anyone I know would have chosen me. But here we are, and I have a sneaking suspicion that years of listening to Todd being honestly engaged by the details of how to run, say, his summer-job landscaping enterprise helped prime me for what I’m doing now.
My brother and I don’t agree on everything politically or economically. He went to school in the South, and I’ve stuck it out in liberal bastions of the Midwest for the past six years. But when he makes a joke from “Always Sunny In Philadelphia,” I laugh, and when he tells me his idea for a new tumblr, I listen and offer my help. Don’t tell him, because he’ll stop doing it, but I’m really glad that he’s started posting on my Facebook wall more often. He’s a cool kid. I miss him.
And to me, as smart and suave and handsome (and egotistical, if he reads this) as he gets, he’ll always be the little tow-head who used to chase me around the yard with a butterfly net and a piece of baloney, shrieking that I’d have to eat it if he caught me. And I’ll always be the chubby little girl with bangs and a tie made out of Fruit Roll-Ups who tried to stick a fruit snack to his forehead.
Sorry I talked enough to hinder your language development as a child so you had to see a speech therapist, bro. After the nuclear apocalypse, when your stockpiled goods and farming skills are all that stand between me and certain death, I’ll try to make it up to you.
EDIT: Apparently he’s been interior decorating for the last week and to reaffirm his masculinity, he plays this song on loop:
I’m so proud I could cry.