Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Of Frostys and Rock Concerts

One of the unique things about my college situation is that I am still living at home. It’s not even that I drive to school every morning and drive back every night. I go back and forth throughout the day, walking through the same parking lot, unlocking the same gate, and walking down the same road over and over again. For the most part, I have looked on this situation as being an unbreakable chain that makes everything I try to do more difficult. But over the two weeks since I’ve gone back to school this year, there are a lot of things I’ve been able to see at least somewhat differently.

Every time I come in after being at class or work for a few hours, the moment my 8-year-old brother knows I’m in the house, he’ll run from wherever he is yelling my name and throw himself at me to give me a hug. On days when I’m particularly tired, this nearly knocks me over, but somehow I don’t mind. He’s honestly just glad to see me, and that is something special. Sometimes he comes and sits on my lap (even though he’s way too big) when I’m doing homework, just because he says “I want to be with you.”

I normally don’t get to spend much time with my younger siblings, aside from passing interactions, because I am so busy. I only eat one meal a day with my family (and sometimes not even that, if I work evening shifts), and the in-and-out nature of my life keeps me in constant motion. But last week I had a chance to go out to Wendys for dinner with my father and my two youngest siblings (my 8-year-old brother and 11-year-old sister). They were thrilled beyond what even seemed reasonable to have me with them. Every time we had to walk between the car and any building, they each chose one of my arms and literally clung to me as we were walking. It made it hard for me to walk, but I didn’t tell them to let go. I knew it was important for them to have me there.

We ate together, and I listened to them talk in their random, sporadic way. I was sitting beside my little brother, and he discovered that because we were on a cushioned seat, when one of us would sit down the other’s seat would suddenly puff up— basically a waterbed effect. We amused ourselves for the next five minutes, taking turns standing up and then dropping back onto the seat to jostle the other one as much as possible. I realized at some point while I was doing this that most college students wouldn’t have the chance to do stupid, childish things like this. Most wouldn’t even want to. I felt sorry for them.

We all got Frostys, and my little brother kept clinging to me because he said he was getting so cold. He made me laugh by shivering dramatically and letting his teeth chatter.

By the end of the evening I’d lost a lot of valuable homework time, but I knew that what I’d done was even more valuable.

A few days later, I used my student ID to get discounted tickets for my 14-year-old brother and I to attend a DecembeRadio concert. He’d never been to a rock concert before although he’d wanted to for years, and so he was excited.

The concert ended up being amazing. The first opening band, Dekree, was a lot harder than the two bands that followed, and they called anyone who wanted to come up to the front to form a mini-mosh pit. I looked at my brother, grinned, and brought him down to the very front, where we stood together headbanging. At the end the drummer threw his sticks, and my brother caught one. I think I was just about as happy as my brother was.

After that we were all told to go back to our seats for the next two bands. However, we didn’t stay there. During DecembeRadio’s set, several people were going down into the aisles. Once again, I looked at my brother and told him to come with me. We jumped over the backs of our seats and ran down into the aisle to jump and sing with the others.

Afterwards we went out to meet the bands at the merch tables. My brother went over to the opening band’s table, but I was too nervous to, particularly because I felt bad that I had no money to support them with. But then my brother came and said “they want you to go over there.”

I blinked. “What?”

“Dekree,” he said. “They said they want to meet you.”

So I went over, and we talked to the band. Apparently they’d noticed me rocking during their set (I guess my hair makes me rather noticeable). My brother bought their album and got it signed, and I had them sign my ticket. We talked for a bit longer before going over to DecembeRadio’s table.

I’d met DecembeRadio when they’d come to my University in March, and I’d been talking to them that morning as well for a good long while, so I waited until everyone else had gone through the line before going to talk to them again. My brother bought a poster, and wanted them to sign it. He was so nervous to ask them, but I encouraged him to just go ahead and ask— I knew they’d want to sign it for him. I talked to their lead guitarist for a while (I’d talked to him for like 20 minutes that morning) and then to their lead singer. They were very, very nice, and it was fun talking to them. (I’ve told most people the full story of meeting them, so it won’t go here, because it doesn’t really relate to the point I want to make.)

After I made sure I got a picture of my brother with the band, we walked home.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

We walked and talked about the concert, and then I settled in at my desk to do homework. Over the next few days, I started planning out a blog entry about the concert and how and why music is so important to me. But in the end, I realized a different entry needed to be written.

One of the major reasons that concert was so special was because I got to share it with my brother. I got to show him the ropes of concert-going, and he got to experience something he loved for the first time.

I heard so many times from freshmen last year that one reason they came to my school was because it was far enough away from their family that they wouldn’t have to see them too often. I understand that, and at times I have envied them. But I’m coming to understand that they’re missing out.

I don’t want to be the older sister who drops out of her siblings’ lives or who, worse, comes home and yells at them and tells them to leave her alone. I want to be a sister who my siblings can want to have around. I want to be the kind of sister who can do silly, childish things with her 8-year-old brother. I want to be the kind of sister who takes her brother to rock concerts and helps him meet the band. I want to be the kind of sister who gives up Starbucks money to buy snow cones from her little sister’s stand.

Most of all, I want to be the kind of sister who loves her siblings like Jesus would.

I’ve failed pretty epically on that last one, but I’m working on it. I hope my younger siblings understand that some day.

- Elraen -


Liz said...

this is such a sweet blog entry. i think if they could read this, even in 10 years, they would understand just how much you love them with the full reality =)

and by the way, i think you're doing a great job loving them ♥

Linda B said...

They're so blessed to have you as a sister. And we're so blessed to have you at home during your college years.