Five-Minute Memoir: 'I have met and fallen in love with my brother by blood'

 

My husband and my brother have the same stature, though polar zeal. My brother is an explorer crazy-man who loves wolves and geckos. My husband, who grew up in New York City, plays golf and tennis. Both are nearly two metres tall. I've never felt more secure than walking between them. Both are my family, though I only just found my brother.

I grew up in Le Vesinet. My parents had decided we would live in a leafy suburb of Paris. The argument was that my brother would need a backyard. Had we lived in the city, he might have gone rogue, rappelling down old spires. Instead, he hung out on the roof, kept a pet tree frog in our pond and wedged himself between glass panes on French doors.

We didn't fight. And I always loved him, I just didn't really believe he existed. I was in my own existential angst, more concerned with lovely little things. He wore goggles around the house and sailed ships in the bidet. I locked myself in my room. It went on like this for 15 years. We were cordial, just never truly connected or aware of each other. We both went to university and back to see our parents for holidays. I've never asked him, but I think along the way he discovered not all girls were as whimsical and crazy as me. He knew sooner than I did that our little nuclear family nestled away in a village was its own kind of Utopia.

We didn't look anything alike. He was dark and handsome. I was fair and ginger. Our mother had a favourite morbidism: "Be nice to your brother, he's all you'll have when we're gone". Still I didn't get it.

A few months ago, my brother moved to SoHo in New York, two blocks from me. Our parents moved to Cape Cod, to sail, fish and read. He came over to my apartment and we talked for hours and I looked at him, impressed with his character and heart, but still unsure who he belonged to or why he was there.

One day when I needed it more than he could have sensed, I received a message from him on my phone. A simple, 'Sis! You're gonna kill it!'. I received a few other messages in following weeks, pictures of owls (we both had childhood obsessions with snowy birds), silly, loving notes that I should call our mother, and most often, soft encouragement as he knew I lacked this hopefulness on my own. His messages reminded me of something, but I couldn't figure out what exactly. Our mother had always left us written-down thoughts or glitter or little tokens in our rooms, lunches or mail. He'd learnt this kind of love from her.

A few weeks ago, this giant 26-year-old boy, who was mindful like our father and spirited like our mother, but really nothing like either, was over again for lunch. My husband was out and it was just us.

"I feel sick," I complained to him.

"What'd you eat today?" he asked me.

"I had some coffee and a cookie." He looked down and up at me through long, long eyelashes (we both had these, but mine were white-red and visible only with mascara).

"Stephie, you know that makes you feel sick. If I ate that I'd be dying."

Neither of us did well with wheat. It wasn't a romantic revelation. This was my brother.

Because I was certain I was a changeling at birth, I'd refused to recognise him. There was never any easy evidence that we were related. I tried to recall if we'd had similar interests and all I could remember was him destroying one of my art projects, or the ambulance coming for him after he biked off a cliff into a ravine, or how I used to laugh at the suit he wore in ski competitions. Then, I remembered so many moments all at once.

Heart and vigour run in families, like metabolic reactions, and resilience. My brother had told me so many times without words that he saw the darkness, and by way of extreme sports and making it this far, how to fight for the light.

And now, just when I'm about to start a family of my own, I have met and fallen in love with my brother by blood. Our mother and father live hours away and, for the first time in our adult lives, we're within minutes of one another. My brother senses when I need him. This phenomenon sometimes happens with friends or lovers, but by that point, they, too, are family.

My brother and I still look nothing alike, although we order the same thing at dinner, wake up around sunrise, love odd creatures and laugh at ridiculous jokes. My mother-in-law just told me she thinks my first baby might be a boy, a combination of my husband and my brother. And I am reminded again that somewhere inside of me there's a template for family and it does look remarkably like my brother.

'An Extraordinary Theory of Objects' is published by HarperCollins

Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
film
Arts and Entertainment
Go figure: Matt Parker, wearing the binary code scarf knitted by his mother
comedy Mathematician is using comedy nights to teach and preach sums
Arts and Entertainment
Ryan Gosling in 'Drive'
filmReview: Ryan Gosling is still there, but it's a very different film
Arts and Entertainment
Urban explorer: Rose Rouse has documented her walks around Harlesden, and the people that she’s encountered along the way
books Rouse's new book discusses her four-year tour of Harlesden
Arts and Entertainment
Shock of the news: Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Franco Zeffirelli's production of 'Aida' at Milan's famed La Scala opera house
operaLegendary opera director in battle with theatre over sale of one of his 'greatest' productions
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Juergen Wolf won the Young Masters Art Prize 2014 with his mixed media painting on wood, 'Untitled'
art
Arts and Entertainment
Iron Man and Captain America in a scene from
filmThe upcoming 'Black Panther' film will feature a solo black male lead, while a female superhero will take centre stage in 'Captain Marvel'
Arts and Entertainment
The Imperial War Museum, pictured, has campaigned to display copyrighted works during the First World War centenary
art
Arts and Entertainment
American Horror Story veteran Sarah Paulson plays conjoined twins Dot and Bette Tattler
tvReview: Yes, it’s depraved for the most part but strangely enough it has heart to it
Arts and Entertainment
The mind behind Game of Thrones George R. R. Martin
books

Will explain back story to fictional kingdom Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Dorothy in Return to Oz

film Unintentionally terrifying children's movies to get you howling (in fear, tears or laughter)
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Robert James-Collier as under-butler Thomas

TVLady Edith and Thomas show sad signs of the time
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Dad's Army cast hit the big screen

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge

books
Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning?
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift performs at the 2014 iHeart Radio Music Festival
music review
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Arts and Entertainment
Miranda Hart has called time on her award-winning BBC sitcom, Miranda
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
    The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

    Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

    Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
    Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

    What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

    Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
    A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

    Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

    Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
    Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

    'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

    A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

    Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

    The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
    Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

    Paul Scholes column

    Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
    Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

    Frank Warren column

    Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
    Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

    Adrian Heath's American dream...

    Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
    Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
    Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

    A Syrian general speaks

    A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
    How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

    Turn your mobile phone into easy money

    There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes