There are three constants in life that I’ve grown to realized are always present. Politics, I never have any money, and my mom being pregnant.
Okay, maybe that last one is a bit of a stretch, but growing up, it sure seemed like she was always pregnant. It felt as if every few years she was breaking the news to me that I was about to receive a new brother or sister. The first time it occurred, she sat me down and carefully tried to explain that she didn’t love me any less and that I would grow to appreciate my new baby brother as much as I did her and my dad. By the time Colton was baking in the oven, it had gotten to the point where she just turned around to me while driving to home and mentioned, “Oh yeah, I’m pregnant again!”
When Tommy, Clay, and Colton were all on their way, I resented them all. Tommy was about to cramp my style of being an only child, we had to move to a new house and new school district because of Clay, and I felt Colton was going to do nothing but make our family more hectic and chaotic. The only one I was ever excited about was Julianne, because she was the first baby sister I was going to receive. Of course, the day each of them transformed from some weird blob inside my mom’s stomach to an actual, breathing human baby, my thoughts and emotions shifted to, “Sweet…I’ve now got another sibling! I’m never going to let anything happen to this little creature.”
And I never did. I’ve always been amazingly protective over each of them, standing up for them whenever the situation arose and feeling no shame in kicking the crap out of a kid half my size who had been picking on one of them. I’ve always tried to pass along any knowledge or tricks of the trade that I’ve picked up along the way and like I’ve said on here a million times, one of my greatest joys in life is watching them each grow up and blossom into their own individual.
But there was one inherent flaw in this grand scheme. No matter how many kids my mom decided to have, none of them could be older than I already was. I know, quite shocking, but it’s true. I was destined forever to be the oldest child, the one kid in the entire family who would never have an older sibling.
To some people that might sound like a great idea, being the oldest child, and I’ll be honest, there are times where I love being the oldest. I can pull rank whenever I need to and delegate duties and chores that otherwise I’d have had no choice but to do. But even despite that, there were quite a few times where I wished I’d had an older brother. Somebody who would have looked out for me, taken me under their wings, and protected me. Somebody who could have been the one teaching me the tricks of the trade and showing me how to get away with things behind mom and dad’s back. In essences, somebody who would have done for me everything I did for my siblings.
The funny thing is, it wasn’t until I was in high school that I realized I’d already had an older brother for the last seven years.
Like I said earlier this month in my post about Jeremy, my family moved right after Year 3. It was summertime and of course normally I would have been out running around the neighborhood with my friends, getting into trouble and causing mayhem. The only problem was that I didn’t know anybody in the new neighborhood and I wasn’t too keen about going out and making new friends. I moped around the house for a few weeks until my mom finally grew tired of my whining and threw me out. She had noticed another little boy across the street, playing basketball in his driveway all alone, and therefore thought he would make a good friend. I remember looking up at her and rolling my eyes when she said this, because, honestly, how would she know that he would made a good friend? She’d never met him or actually talked to him. How did she know he wasn’t weird? How did she know I’d like him? This was my mom telling me he’d be a cool friend, so obviously since she thought he’d be cool, there was no way he could be cool. But of course, despite my screams of protest, I was pushed out the front door one afternoon and told I couldn’t come back inside until I’d gone and talked to him.
So there I was, sent out into foreign territory, scared of this kid across the street who was different than me. I remember looking at him from my front steps and thinking he must be Chinese or something and that he probably didn’t even speak English. It must have taken me ten minutes just to walk across the street over to his house. I kept my head down, looking at the ground as I shuffled my feet on the pavement, and prayed that by some miracle I wouldn’t have to go through with this torturous mission.
Finally I was within talking distance and he had stopped shooting his basketball and was staring at me, sizing me up just like I had been doing him for the past few minutes. After a few awkward moments, I lifted my head, held out my trembling hand, and somehow managed to squeak out a “hi.” He responded with a quick “hi” as well. I was instantly surprised that he even spoke English and before I knew it, I had sat down next to him and we just started to talk. I learned that he was two years older than I was and that he was Malaysian and from there, we just sat around talking. We must have sat outside on that cool, crisp April evening for at least three hours and from then on, we just clicked.
Chong (as I grew to call him) and I spent all summer long together, exploring the forest behind our houses or playing with the scrap wood pieces from construction sites. I remember one particular incident that stands out in my mind as the moment I realized he was a true friend. One afternoon, we got caught red-handed by a neighbor burning some grass clippings. The fire couldn’t even be called a real fire, due to its miniscule size, but we ran like bats out of hell. We must have ran a record time as we flew back to his house and got our “story” worked out. But the main point to this story is that Chong got caught; I didn’t. And Chong never mentioned my name to his parents, not a peep about me being in the incident at all. He had my back the whole way and never once thought about bringing me down with him.
Whenever I had a question about what classes to sign up for, I turned to Chong. The first time I ever sipped a beer or smoked a cigarette (I swear I can still taste the nicotine on my tongue from that damn cig!), Chong was right there by my side watching over me. Chong even seemed to have the answers to any “mature” or “sensitive” questions I had growing up, if you know what I mean. In fact, almost every time I ever had any trouble or qualms, Chong was there for me. The few words he had to offer as pieces of advice invariably turned out to be more helpful than all the speeches I was forced to listen to by my parents. I seriously have no idea what I would have done without him.
As I grew up and moved into high school, I noticed that many “best friends” began to break apart. Guys changed, girls sometimes got between them, and in time they stopped being close friends. But Chong and I had a bond that was far too strong for that. It’s not to say that we weren’t tested though. In Year 10, we both liked the same girl. The only problem was that she kinda liked us both as well. One day while changing for track, I looked over to him and said, “Dude, I don’t want this to turn out bad. I don’t want to end up like some of these guys we hang out with who stab each other in the back just for a girl. We’re better than that.” He turned and looked at me, nodding, and said, “Me too bro. Tell ya what, we’ll let her decide. Whoever she likes more can date her and the other guy will have no hard feelings. Fair enough?” I stuck out my hand to shake his, smiled, and knew that we’d be just fine. It’s not every day that you realize you have a friend of that caliber. And in the end, we proved to the world that we were right. She made her choice, both of us were fine with it, and we moved on like nothing had happened.
But like I said, Chong was and still is two years older than me. Therefore, when I hit Year 11, he was off to uni and that’s when it hit me. Chong had been the older brother I’d so desperately seaked for all these years. And better yet, I had gotten all the perks of having an older brother without having to suffer through the beatings and torturing and general crap that I subjected my brothers to on an almost daily basis. I couldn’t have been more blessed while growing up.
We managed to stay good friends despite going to uni in different states, always talking on-line and meeting up whenever possible. After graduating, he got a job that ultimately shipping him across the country to Seattle. Some might have let that become the beginning of the end of their friendship. Us? Well, tomorrow morning I head out to Seattle for a 5 day spree of drinking, Mariners baseball, and general mayhem with none other than the one and only Chong.
Don’t be alarmed nor surprised if you read in the news that Washington State has called out the National Guard. It’s just their response to a few days of Goob n’ Chong.
Honest to God, could 2005 be any more perfect?