When my brother Nate and I were younger we used to fight. A lot. And whenever things got bad enough that my mom had to get involved, she always had us make up the same way: Brother Hugs. She’d literally make us hug even though we wanted to tear each other’s heads off. And since we were so angry with each other they’d never be real hugs, but more like body bumps where we clenched each other so hard we tried to hurt one another, whispering things like “as soon as her back is turned I’m going to kill you!”

For the last few days I’ve been remembering a lot of stuff that involves my brother. Because Nate — the keeper of this virtual tome that is The Daddy Files — has accepted a new job in Maryland where he’s moving to live with his girlfriend.

It’s not unexpected news, they’ve been doing the long distance dating thing for five years now. But even though I knew it was coming, it still took me by surprise.

Don’t get me wrong, a big part of me is happy for him. He loves his girlfriend very much and we all know they’ll get married eventually. She’s a doctor at Johns Hopkins and Nate is crazy about her for good reason. But the only thing he wasn’t crazy about was moving. And frankly, I’m not crazy about it either.

And that’s awful to say, I know. I fully admit it. I’m a bad brother and a bad person. But I can’t help it. I’m selfish and I’m going to miss him. A lot.

You all don’t know Nate, but you have to believe me when I say that making decisions is Nate’s downfall. He hates making decisions, especially rushed decisions. Nate requires multiple Excel spreadsheets, a Magic 8 ball and days of Internet research just to decide where he wants to go out to eat. So when he was suddenly offered a job and told to make a decision within 48 hours, he was truly in panic mode. Deep down he knew what he was going to do, but leaving the only place you’ve ever known is a tough call no matter what.

The two of us talked about it on Monday night, the day before he had to decide. He asked me what I thought about it and honestly, I had lots of thoughts. I have to admit, the first one that jumped into my head sounded something like “NOOOOOO!!! MAKE HER MOVE HERE DAMMIT!” But after I clubbed that voice to death, I told him it was a good thing. I told him he needs to go to Maryland to be with his girlfriend, make sure they can live together on a full-time basis and get ready to start his life with her. I told him congratulations and that I was proud of him. We talked about whether or not he’d be able to bring his TV, if they’d find a new place, how many times a year he’d come back this way and a ton of other stuff.

The one thing we didn’t talk about — the one thing that was never mentioned — was Will. And for good reason.

You see, I can help rationalize all the other stuff. I can downplay the fact that he won’t be able to go to Fenway because he can get the MLB package. If he gets homesick, I can tell him airfare from Baltimore to Boston is cheap and affordable. But the one thing I can’t change is the fact that this move means he’ll miss a lot where Will is concerned. There’s just no way around it. Right now he sees Will at least once a week, but Baltimore means once every few months. It means he’ll miss huge chunks of time in which Will is going to grow like a weed, start saying cool words and all that stuff. I know he feels guilty about that, but there’s nothing I can say or do that will make that particular issue any better. Likewise, when he gets married and has kids I’m not going to get to see them nearly as often as I’d like. I can’t wait to be an uncle and the selfish part of me is just wishing he was closer.

The really shitty part is that Will has two uncles. Nate is moving to Baltimore and MJ’s brother Tommy recently moved to Maryland as well. And ever since Nate and MJ met, they’ve shared a special connection and understanding with each other that I just can’t figure out. But my wife loves Nate so much, and it increased when her own brother moved away. That’s why I’m surprised The Ice Queen (as I lovingly refer to my normally emotionless better half) is even shedding a few tears over this.

I thought I was prepared for this but I’m having kind of a difficult time. I just had things planned in my head a little differently. I really thought we’d both settle down in Massachusetts and live near each other. I thought we’d go over each other’s house for Sunday BBQs and to watch the Patriots games. I envisioned our kids playing together on a regular basis and frequent family get togethers on perfect New England fall days. I know how corny I sound, but I can’t help it. I’m a huge, tacky geek at heart.

But most of all I’m going to miss my brother. I’m going to miss arguing with him because he always made me better. He’s so anal and nitpicky and he pounces on any inconsistency in your argument, so I always make sure I’m on point. I’m going to miss his quiet thoughtfulness, exemplified perfectly by the unbelievable gift he gave me for my 30th birthday last month, turning the first year of Daddy Files into a hardcover book. I’m going to miss Sunday football marathons where Nate, my dad and I sit around with our laptops checking our fantasy football teams and trash talking. And I’m going to miss Uncle Nate watching Will grow up, because the two of them love each other so much.

And yes, I know full well this sounds like a eulogy and he’s certainly not dying. It’s Baltimore, not the west coast. He’ll get home to see us all and we’ll go visit him occasionally too. He’s going to be very successful at his new job and I’m sure things will work out with him and his girlfriend and they’ll live happily ever after. But I can’t help but wish that living was taking place here.

I sure could use a Brother Hug right about now.

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21 thoughts on “Brothers

  1. I’m so envious of people who are close with their siblings. If my brother told me he was moving to another state I’d probably start doing the dance of joy as soon as his back was turned. Awful to say but true. My husband’s favorite brother is the one who lives furthest from us and it really does suck, only seeing our niece & nephew a few times a year, missing out on so much. We do our best to keep in touch – facebook and blogs help, technology is a blessing.

  2. When you have kids, you hope they will grow up to be close and appreciate each other. I’m so lucky – my wife raised great kids.

  3. While that’s fantastic news (Nate, Rick and I are SO HAPPY for you) I can understand your saddness. My brother lives in Brooklyn (with his NEW fiancee) and it gets tough….especially now because we have to share holidays.

    You can always look on the bright side, now you’ll get to go to all the home games with your dad and not fight over the good ones. 🙂

  4. Liz, you think Nate isn’t going to fly back for those games?? He’s coming back for the football games and for our annual fantasy football draft. Those are mandatory.

  5. Liz –

    Brooklyn???? Do you need a passport to visit???? Tell me he’s not a Yankee fan – please!

  6. Bill,

    He knows better. He’s a Red Sox fan. Also, because he was born in Chicago, he’s a Cubs fan too. More Red Sox though.

    On that note, he’s also a Patriots/Bears fan. More Patriots lately though.


    I should have guessed.

  7. I think it’s great that you have a such a great relationship with Nate and that he has a strong bond with Will. I’m not living near any relatives, so the kind of regular interaction you say you will miss, I’ve never really had. But my in-laws have made a point of visiting, or having us visit, every few months, and our son adores them beyond belief. When he sees them, it’s like they were never gone. I hope that’s encouraging to you. I also hope life will bring you guys closer (geographically) to each other eventually.

  8. TheBear: Just because your brother hates you and planned his wedding specifically for a time and date you couldn’t attend, don’t take it out your fraternal angst on the rest of us. Not to mention your family up and moved to Arizona just to be rid of you…

  9. Sorry about the family break up. My brother and I used to be close, but we have had some problems. Not the least of which is the fact that he shows no interest whatsoever in our son. We don’t even speak anymore. Be glad that you had the time you did. And be glad that you have a good brother no matter where he lives.

  10. The worst part is that I-95 is the only way to get to Maryland… but flights are cheap.

  11. Aaron, you’re right, it is hard to live away from a sibling you are close to but you know what? I lived away from my sister for years and we both had our children while we were living apart and yet we are both close to eachother’s children. On the other hand, my sister in law lives in MA and could have been there for all of Matt’s milestones and wasn’t. I don’t think Matt would even recognize her if he saw her so proximity isn’t everything. Nate sounds like the kind of guy that will pick up with Will right where he left off the last time he saw him. Don’t worry. It’s won’t always be great but overall it does work out. Have a little faith.

  12. Aaron, there are a lot of things that I want to say, but I don’t think I could put them as well as you did. Thank you. It still hasn’t really hit me that I’m moving yet, until this. I think I was half hoping that you’d try to talk me out of it the other day (and I know you wanted to), but you told me I had to do it, for me. So thank you for that too.

    It won’t be the same, there’s no way around that. But I’ll do the best that I can. That corny stuff sounded pretty good to me. Pats games and fantasy draft are a must though, no question about it.

    Bear, thanks for lightening the mood, it was getting a little emotional, a little dusty here in my cubicle.

  13. First, congrats Nate on the new job! Second, being a person who had a brother hightail it out of town right after college I know what it’s like to go through all the thoughts of not having them around for all the big family milestones. In the end I accepted that he had to do what’s best for him. Luckily we manage to keep a lot closer than I would have imagined prior to him moving. The invention of webcams and cell phones with unlimited mobile to mobile really help! Look on the bright side, Camden Yards is practically Fenway South. You’ll have no problems scoring a few cheap weekend tickets for some Sox/Orioles action.

  14. Use your camera phone and take alot of videos to catch the beautiful moments that you can send your brother. He will appreciate that. I moved from my siblings for over 22 years and thank God for cell phones, I am up with everything they did daily. Hopefully you two can visit one another at least twice a year so he doesn’t miss on Will growing up. Who knows, maybe his girlfriend can find a job back here. And then everything will truly be okay.

  15. I still want that pre-cohabitation agreement where Nate and Melissa promise any children spawned down there will be raised as Boston sports fans. And Nate better get used to having visitors!

  16. daddy Dude: Im very sorry your brother is moving. When we moved west 13 years ago, I recall thinking about who I would miss the most back there in New England…my Nana. She just turned 97. Shes the oldest person in New Castle, NH, holder of the boston post cane award and still makes a wicked good chowdah. crazy huh? We talk on the phone every week…but it’s not the same.

    OLD DUDE: my kids are boston sports fans of because of their DNA and not becuse of their location…”It’s why we watch”. in fact at an Oakland A’s game last year they were the only californians under the age of ten who knew who orsillo and remy were and could pick out thier broadcast booth…you have nothing to worry about.

  17. The Old Guy: Congratulations and job well done on raising your sons. You should probably have your own blog, or maybe some type of site where parents can send you parenting questions and you can give real answers not the hogwash we find on most site out there. You have accomplished a goal that many of us parents have and you deserve MAJOR kudos.

    Nate and Aaron: Skype!

    Nate: any and all future children will of course be Boston sports fans, right?

  18. He may come back soon. I lived in N. Va for 2 years and learned a very important lesson. New Englanders are simply not meant to live south of the Mason/Dixon. It may not be too bad but if his morning commute involves the beltway, the brother you knew is gone forever, lol. Living that close to DC has a way of sucking all the humanity out of your soul.

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