In 2002 I left my job in Kentucky, and moved back home to Texas to help my brother look after our dad. Our mom died in 1989. My brother had been living with them after getting out of the Army a few years earlier. So I moved in with my dad and my brother.
It was like a karmic nightmare. But it must have been karma left over from some past life, I figured, because what had I done in this life to deserve this?
The three of us couldn’t be more different. I tend to go in for passive resistance, my dad (I’ll refer to him as “D”) did the passive aggressive bit, and my brother (“T”) is just aggressive. Then there’s the whole political and world view arena, where I would have to describe D as “old-school-establishment-conservative,” T as “radical-hippie-mercenary-headbanging-conservative,” and myself as “other.”
Anyway, what precipitated my return was a mild stroke that landed D in the hospital for a short stay, and no one but T, whose daughter and ex-wife live on the west coast, was around to take care of him. In Kentucky, I was having my own set of difficulties that kept using up my leave time. T assured me that the three of us could live on what he was making even if I didn’t get a job when I came back. D had a good pension and could pay some of the bills, too.
Now here we are, going on seven years later, me and T still under the same roof. D left us for the far side last September, just a few months shy of his 97th birthday. I still don’t have a job. I own the piece of land our “manufactured house” sits on, and T owns the mortgage on the house. It looks like we’re stuck.
On the other hand, after two miserable mistakes of the marital kind, I have begun to see the advantages of this situation. I have my own “wing” of the house. I don’t have to try to find things for us to do together. T doesn’t have to pretend to be interested in anything I do, or vice versa. We have different friends, different activities, and no guilt about it.
But there are some odd intersections that, if not genetic, have to be the result of growing up together. We go see Harry Potter movies together; we also went to the last Star Wars and Lord of the Rings movies together. We like watching Top Gear, Mythbusters, and the Science Channel. We both think Michio Kaku is way cool, but Neil de Grasse Tyson is way UN-cool for demoting Pluto from planethood.
It’s weird. You grow up thinking you’ll never get along with your siblings — that you’d never be able to live with them again — then circumstances throw something at you that you don’t expect, and sometimes you get surprised. I have to say, as far as roommates go, I could do a lot worse.