It is no secret to those closest to me that I am a loner. Being an introvert when I was young, I withdrew from others to maintain control of my surroundings. As I grew older, my shy nature began to fade away, but the desire to escape within myself never did. As a result, with few exceptions, I’ve never been the kind of guy to hang out with other people very often. I could count on one hand the number of motorcycle rallies I have attended in my life. As for motorcycle trips, I can only recall twice every traveling with another person. 99.9% of the time, I ride alone.
When I was young, my brother had a motorcycle. He may have had more than one, but I only remember one: a Honda 305 Scrambler. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to have ridden with him. Maybe we could have created some sort of meaningful bond. It never happened. Circumstances are partly to blame. My brother was 11 years older than me. He was the first; I was the last. As a child, my memories of him are few and fleeting. We only had two things in common: our parents and our penchant for being a smart ass, although compared to Steve, I was an amateur. I am ashamed to admit that I don’t even have a good picture of my only brother.
The closest thing I ever had to a “brotherly” relationship was with my neighbor, Tony. Tony and I were the same age and we lived next door to one another from birth until we moved out of our parent’s homes. When we were young, we were inseparable. Tony’s mom loved to tell the story of when she was pregnant with his baby sister. When she told him she was going to have a baby and maybe he would have a brother, Tony replied,”I don’t need a brother, I have Jamie.” Time, however, has a way of eroding things. As we grew into our teenage years, we spent less and less time together. Tony moved on to cars and girls. I stuck to my dirt bikes and was much too shy for girls.
After Tony and I drifted apart, Mike came along. Mike and I were in the same class at school and even though we were very different people in many ways, we became close friends. For the last 3 years of high school, Mike was my “brother.” We were inseparable. His family was my family; my family was his. Some of the most memorable, most diabolical, most hilarious, most notorious, most wonderful memories of my life were those years that Mike and I were friends. We terrorized the city in his old Jeep, had drunken parties on the lake (and lots of other places!), chased every girl we didn’t scare away and always had one another’s back.
Since the day I met Lori (my wife), she has been my best friend and partner. I could not have hoped for a better person to share my life with. Yet I must admit, I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to have had the same kind of relationship with my blood brother as I had with my friends.
Unfortunately, I will never know. My brother, who would have turned 67 today, passed away 10 years ago. In many ways he had a difficult life. He battled cancer twice; he won once. The second time he never stood a chance. He is on my mind today and I find myself feeling sad that we never found that bond that makes brothers blood.