Hi! I’m in Oakland!

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March 26, 2011 by 8junebugs

Okay, I’ve been here nearly a week, but plans changed a little bit over the course of our four-day cross-country drive. To make a long story short, I opted to hang out with my brother rather than blog.

Also! There is no internet in our home yet. Blogging on the road or in Oakland would’ve started with something like, “Hey, let’s go hang out at a coffee shop where I’ll stare at my computer for half an hour or more while you…twiddle your thumbs?”

That’s not really fair. He had his mp3 player and the first of the Twilight series (no, we didn’t discuss it — I accept that it has a certain value, even if everything about it drives me up a wall) and the kid can make friends anywhere. He’d have been fine, but it would’ve been rude. He chose to take a week off around his 29th birthday to drive across the country with me, and that kind of time deserves that kind of attention.

Make no mistake — this trip was chronicled in a social media way. I checked in whenever we stopped. I posted pics via Facebook so friends and family could follow along. But I skipped the navel gazing that is my wont, normally, and just enjoyed the time with my little brother. We haven’t been in each other’s daily company in more than 10 years…probably closer to 20 at this point.

It was the most fun we’ve ever had together. I’m still having a hard time with how not a child he is.

We talked about the past and the present and the future. It’s still weird to me to learn that anyone in my family has memories that are different from mine. I found this out when Boo said she had no recollection of Memere and Pepere’s Weybridge farm. I mean, of course we have different memories. She’s, what, eight years my junior? She was a wee thing when we moved Memere into town. Somehow, it made sense to me that she didn’t remember Pepere — only a few of us really do — but not that she didn’t remember the farm.

What? Even a flaming liberal is susceptible to cognitive dissonance from time to time.

(I felt the term “flaming liberal” more than ever before when we stopped at Stuckey’s on the Texas-New Mexico border, where I got the distinct impression that my worldview could get me burned as a witch. No joke.)

My brother doesn’t remember too much about the time he spent here as a young kid, other than that Addison County’s schools hadn’t quite prepared him for Alameda County’s. One bite of Round Table pizza the other night, though, and he was completely transported back to Lydiksen Elementary. And then he remembered why he usually stuck with McDonald’s.

The road trip was an experience. If you haven’t done it, please, please do. This is a wide-open, beautiful land of wonders of which we can barely conceive through the lens of our daily lives. We planned very few stops, as the point of the trip was to move me and my car to Oakland and spend some time together. With that agenda — and a lease to sign, a trailer to meet, and a return red-eye to catch — we didn’t meander much. We’re both more likely to visit people rather than places, but this drive gave each of us a sense of what parts of the country we might like to explore…on a more exploratory trip.

A friend questioned this, wondering why we didn’t just fly if we weren’t going to “stop and enjoy” the trip. Sometimes the journey, the time together, and the shared experiences of a mobile meat smoker on the highway and a 1,000-mile day are enough. We had a lot of fun just hanging out and tackling a 3,000-mile trip…the longest trip of any kind he’s ever been on.

We even managed to have fun in Oakland after our plans changed slightly. A nasty series of storms were about to hit the Sierras at the same time we had to decide whether to swing up through Nevada and caravan with Graham and his folks or go straight on to California. Had we gone up, we all might’ve gotten stuck there and missed the windows we needed to hit. (Graham and the puppy are still in Nevada even now — the storms kept people from returning moving trucks, which delayed those waiting to pick them up. At this rate, they should get here on Tuesday.)

And I have to tell you: The few things we planned tended to go comically wrong. We got pounded with snow at the Grand Canyon on the first day of spring. Graham’s delay meant there was no couch for KidBrother to sleep on, no puppy to play with, and no boyfriend to get to know (KidBrother wasn’t around in the old days of our relationship). We got ferry tickets and Alcatraz tickets, but only Alcatraz happened — torrential rain and wind gusts canceled the ferry. Thank god for the washer/dryer in the new apartment, because we had to throw everything we wore into the dryer that day. Twice.

But we got a picture of him throwing a snowball into the Grand Canyon and he laughed his ass off when I couldn’t get the window closed before the plow passed by. He enjoyed the sea lions at Pier 39 (I swear he’s seen them before, but maybe not…or maybe he was just little) and had a great time trying to identify pieces of meat in the Chinatown shop windows. He also saw the World Famous Bush Man in Fisherman’s Wharf, sort of corroborating my story about when Bean put herself between me and DANGER one misty SF morning — previously, I’m not sure anyone back east believed that a random dude jumped out from behind a “bush” at me. We did get to Alcatraz, which was fascinating. And we cracked up over burgers at Nation’s the other night, knowing Oakland had narrowly escaped the destruction of which each of us is capable when extremely hungry.

It turns out, we’re still the only people we know who go all HULKSMASH when we need a damn sandwich and don’t have the acceptable excuse of a blood sugar problem (we’ve checked). Thanks, Mom!

The only regret I have about this trip is that KidBrother and Graham didn’t get to spend any time together as planned*. We may still be able to make that happen this year, but it’ll depend on a couple of things that are nebulous at the moment.

I’m thankful that we had this time together. I’m thankful that I could afford to move the way I wanted to (mostly) and to bring him with me on the trip. I’m thankful that I live in a such a beautiful country and, now, so near my favorite city.

Most of all, I’m thankful for a little brother who isn’t so little and who actually wanted to make this trip with me — it was his idea. It may take a minute (a solid eight days constantly together is a lot), but I’m really going to miss him. It still stuns me how we can be so alike and so completely different — I’ll never get him to move out here, and he’s the only reason I’ll ever get to Watertown, New York — but the alike parts matter more than the different ones.

Thanks for the ride, kiddo.





*I am also slightly regretful about KidBrother being raised such a gentleman that I could only convince him to take the air mattress once, and then only for a couple of hours, when we got to Oakland. He’s going to need a week of decent sleep to get back on track after this trip.


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