Half of my DNA belongs to Texas. My aging telomeres had been trying to tell me this for years but I ignored them until my brother wrote to say his had been doing the same thing. What did he say, you ask?
Big Sister, I find myself unwillingly on the precipice of middle age and increasingly preoccupied with questions of mortality and the meaning of my existence. I aspire to visit the land of our forefathers to honor the memory of our departed pater and reconnect with our roots so I can resolve any remaining intrapsychic conflicts which have emerged in my quest for self actualization before such time as all those souls old enough to recollect me pass from this fragile earthly existence. Oh, and to appease my achy telomeres. For this reason, I am hopeful that you will agree to accompany me to Texas this fall when my country club closes for annual maintenance.
Hell, no. Naw. Not Will. He laughs at my verbosity—but only because we never see each other for more than a few days every other year. Imagine what it would be like to live with me?…Actually, keep that to yourself. Don’t make me cry.
Here is what he really said. He sent a text:
Yo! Whut up, Big J? How bout u n me meet up n tx n visit r peeps ina fall wen da club cloz?
No, he is not illiterate. He does that on purpose. Because he is cool. And, um, bad. And maybe rad? Wait. Is phat a word?
Our sister Gwen and I had tossed around the idea of visiting before this but it had never gotten out of the “wouldn’t that be nice” or “someday” stage. The telomeres had been satisfied with Facebook up until now.
In planning the trip, Will and I divided the labor the way we knew it would work best. After so many years as sibs, we knew the sweet spot. My job was to handle logistics and blow up his phone with lengthy updates and annoying questions. His job was to love me anyway. And give his input, of course. I’m not a total control freak! To prove my point, I archived all his responses and present them to you here:
The time finally came. I arrived a few days early to get the lay of the land before picking him up at Love Field. We fell into easy conversation.
Wait. I’m about to forget why I started this piece!
My brother, as can be said of all of us Lees, is a jar of mixed nuts–a mixture of common and cultured. Will is a highly intelligent, articulate man with a refined palate and a wardrobe consisting solely of Ralph Lauren*. He works as a country club golf pro, teaching and caddying for celebrities. The guy is the only one in the family who can make a decent cucumber salad. On the other hand, Will is an aging, beat-boxing gangsta wannabe with a crippled cat named KickStand. He is a half-luddite who frowns upon the use of plastic money. Go figure. How he thrives in L.A. is beyond me.
(Ok, I lied. He has the gift of gab. He is a virtuoso.)
After an exhausting trip, Will was dying for a cigarette. I pulled over, and he pulled out his money. Did you hear me say “wallet?” No. He had told me a while back that he was saving up his tips for our trip. For some reason, I had envisioned my little cache of folded bills. I don’t carry much because I like plastic. If I were a guy, I wouldn’t need a money clip. I could make do with a bobby pin.
Lord, have mercy! I am thankful my little bro is an extremely tall man with extremely tall pockets. The inauspicious bulge might otherwise have upstaged our homecoming. His bankroll was that big.
As he peeled off some ones, he smiled.
Did Dad teach you that too? Small bills on the outside?
I smiled back and showed him my measly wad of doubled bills. Ones on the outside. Always.
He hopped back into the SUV, and we were off. We never ran out of things to talk about as we roared through the stomping grounds of Billy Boy Lee.
*I am not kidding. I still tease Will about his mincing steps when I asked him to accompany me and Gwen on a walk down country roads while visiting family in West Virginia one Christmas. He hadn’t thought ahead—or he just didn’t own the right clothing—and had had to decide whether or not to embrace the cabin fever with the help of a few brewskis or take a stroll through gravel, grime, and potholes in his pristine, white canvas Ralphs. He chose the walk. Love ya, bro!