Friday, June 10, 2011

celebrating 25.

Listening To: Mykonos by Fleet Foxes

Today is my brother's birthday. As is typical of my OCD brother, he made his grand entrance to this Life in the most numerically sensible of ways: he was born at 10:06 a.m., on 6/10, weighting 6 lbs. 10 oz. He grew up to be a numbers guy. Who knew?

In the five lonely years of my life leading up to my brother's birth, I spent much time BEGGING my parents for another sibling. My older sister was (and is) incredible. But she was gone a bunch, already thriving in High School when I was a kid. And I knew something was missing from our wacko family dynamic. When my mom finally told me she was preggers, I squealed like it was Christmas morning. I was standing on the carport steps when she told me, and suddenly I was breathless. I felt like my heart was filling up, up, up, like a red balloon about to burst out of my chest.

I wanted a brother more than anything - more than My Little Ponies, more than endless marathons of The Cosby Show, more than snow days - more than anything.

"I want a brother." I emphasized this frequently to my parents, as if sibling gender was as easy to pick as a new Barbie. I liked to be thorough though. I was the kind of kid who wrote down page numbers from the Sears catalog to corresponded with my wish list items each Christmas, so of course I was specific on the sibling stuff.

When my parents explained to me that they couldn't control whether or not I got a brother or sister, I said: "That's fine. All I'm saying, is that he needs to be a boy."

I prayed about this extensively. I'm glad God agreed a guy was what we needed to make Casa de Lloyd complete. My parents decided not to find out if they were having a boy or girl until the big day (they wanted to be surprised). I had a hunch though. Two girls in this household was plenty (I am positive my parents would shout Amen to that). When my mom's baby shower rolled around, and people gave her mounds of pink stuff, I chuckled.

Twenty-five years ago, on June 10th, sometime after 10:06 am, I woke up at my grandparents house. I couldn't remember how I got to my grandparents house, but I didn't care, because I smelled breakfast.

I groggily made my way to the kitchen table. I climbed up in the chair (my feet didn't touch the floor) (They probably still wouldn't). I smiled. I waved, probably. Because I've always been a little bit confused and weirded out in the mornings.

My papaw sat down across from me and said, "Well, sweetheart. You got your little brother."

And I lost it. I think I freaked all three of us out. I was beyond excited. Wide awake. I wanted to get in the car right then and go see my brother. My grandparents convinced me to try and eat first but I was too excited to make much of an effort (a strange and marvelous phenomenon that has not occurred since).

We made the hour and a half pilgrimage to Knoxville in my Papaw's dinosaur of a car. The drive seemed to take hours that day. It probably did take hours, in fact. My grandfather was possibly the slowest driver to ever get behind the wheel. (I told him this many times.) (He nodded proudly and said, "You got that right.")

Once we got to the hospital, I got to chill with my dad. But I didn't get to see Chase. He was sick so I couldn't even go look at him in his little cubey thing. I tried very hard not to cry. My grandparents took me to Long John Silvers. I was pretty much okay after that. Hush Puppies do wonders for tears.

I waited another few weeks and then finally, finally my parents brought Chase home ...

And the minute I saw him, I was smitten. He was awake with his mouth twisted into this funny little "O" - like he was whistling. Just hanging out. Just chillin.

I've read that many siblings who have a five year (or less) age difference go through some weird spurts of jealousy. But I was never, ever jealous of Chase. I knew he was the cooler one. I knew he was the best. I knew I had never loved anything like I loved my little brother. I loved watching him sleep in his crib. I loved making him laugh. I loved to prop him up beside me and make him watch girly cartoons. Mom tells a story about her friends coming to see him, about how they had a little boy who was crazy-go-nuts, running around like a maniac. She says I got very close to Chase and cut that rowdy kid a stink-eye the entire time he was there. You mess with him, you mess with me.

But our journey has not all been sibling bliss. Because, early on, I could see a unique facet of my brother's personality emerging: that part of him bent on annoying the crap out of me.

Even when he was a baby he would grab my hair, yank really hard, and laugh his head off. Sometimes he would accidentally drop things except the drop was more a direct trajectory toward my face. Once, he put my kitten in the toilet. His justification was that the kitten wanted to be there.

He has confessed finding new ways to irritate me is still one of his great joys in life.

Example: even now if Chase walks in a room where I am sitting, he always sits on me. And he acts like I'm not there, like he can't hear me when I yell, "Get off you are crushing me!" (My bro is not robust, but I'm a wimpy girl). I saw a little plaque the other day that said, "a brother helps you when you fall" and I chuckled. Because in my experience, a brother is also likely the one to, um, trip you.
(<--- The Snow Minion he built on Christmas Day.) But, as is the way with brothers, he is mostly awesome. When I am loopy and frustrated, he drives me up to the mountains for a few hours of coffee and great music that I've never even heard of. Sometimes you ask, down in the comments, how I find such great bands. The answer is always Chase. He's in the know when it comes to music. We listen to records and talk books, movies, bands, politics (he is one of the FEW people I talk about politics with), and faith. And we talk about Harry Potter a buuuunch. We joke that we can't make it through a conversation without mentioning:

1.) a line from Goonies ("It's wet ain't it? Drink it!")
2.) The Avett Brothers
or 3.) Voldemort

I look up to my little brother, and not just because he had outgrown me by the time I was, like, 10. I maintain that he is the toughest kid I've ever met. Chase and I were both born with a bone disease that's fairly rare. We've both dealt with lots of broken bones and surgeries, but his surgeries have been so massive. He has metal rods in both legs now (makes airport travel extra fun!); a process that involved months of rehab. A few years ago we wrecked and he was in the hospital for weeks. And even when he came home with metal bars sticking out of his legs, (a halo that helped the bone grow straight again), and even when he had to put college and his whole life on hold, he didn't complain. He just kept going. He found a different way to get to the place he wanted to be. I'll never forget the day the cast came off his wrist and he played guitar again, fumbling through chords he'd played effortlessly just months before. He found his way back though. He always does.

Instead of coming out of that experience bitter, I think it made him even more tender-hearted. And grateful, too. He wears his scars like a soldier. He's quite exceptional that way.

And now he's 25. Which is nuts. I met him for lunch recently and he walked in the restaurant wearing his suit and his aviators. He had hipster scruff around his face. The waitress got all giggly and gushy and flirty and it hit me - that Chase is totally a grown-up. A very accomplished and handsome grown-up. He could be a jerk about it, but he's as kind and sarcastic and funny as ever.

In conclusion, I confess that there are some silly things I hoped for when I was five years old. I wanted to live in the Crystal Castle. I wanted to marry Bo Duke. I wanted to fly on an airplane because I thought I might see Care-a-Lot tucked up into the clouds somewhere. None of that worked out. But I knew what I was doing when I asked for a brother. I had a hunch eventually my brother would become one of my best friends. He totally has. I'm a blessed girl.

So let us all raise our glasses of sweet tea to The Rogue Accountant. Chester Copperpot, I'm so glad you're in the world (even when you burp in my face and tell me there's a cute movie with puppies and kittens coming on TV that turns out to be PET CEMETERY). (Butthead.)

Also, the Miley Cyrus CD you wanted was sold out so I made you brownies instead. ; )

Happy Birthday, brother. You're cooler than Hush Puppies.
I would love to hear about your siblings down in the comments!


  1. Oh, what an awesome tribute, Natalie! Happy Birthday to the Rogue Accountant! :)

  2. Happy birthday Rogue Accountant! All those numbers are quite funny. PB was born at 10:02 so we say she was two minutes late, I was born at 8:25 so I was five minutes early:)
    You are so good at writing about other people Natalie, I loved this post.

  3. What a sweet post. :) It's awesome that you and your brother are so close. I hope he has a great birthday!

    My brother is almost two years younger than me (23 months, to be exact. And when we were younger, he used to rub it in my face that for one whole month, he was only *one* year younger than me :). And I definitely went through a crazy jealous phase for a year or so after he was born! I was actually just watching some home videos yesterday, and I realized that not only was I an obnoxious child, but it was clear I didn't appreciate my parents giving attention to anyone other than me. :) I swatted at his hands with a back scratcher (which was, apparently, a really fun toy), pushed him off slides, etc. But he made up for it and got some revenge when he was a little older. :)

    We went through a time when we were actually pretty close, with the usual little spats- we played together all the time and traded our toys back and forth. Now he's 18 and we have so little in common that it seems like we're from different planets. :) He has enlisted in the Marines and is supposed to leave for boot camp at the end of the year.


  4. I love that you call your brother your best friend. I wish I was closer to my brothers sometimes, but I can't complain. We love each other loads.

    As the youngest I always get picked on too. They would throw my baby-dolls across the room and watch them land on their heads. And the 3 of them STILL love to sneak into my room while I'm on my computer and scare me to death.

    I think it's awesome how God hand picks our siblings for us. Cause no matter how hard we all try, we can never get rid of them. :)

  5. This is such a sweet and hilarious post. :) Your bro sounds insanely cool.

    I have a twin, as you know, :) so we are very close as well. Spending 20 years of your life beside someone who looks really similar to you, makes life really fun. We are very similar in style, but wayyyyy different in personality. We aren't as different as a lot of other twins we know, but we do fight quite a bit. About dumb stuff though, like clothes, shoes, and movies. :)

    Siblings are awesome. And I think God has fun choosing them for us :)

  6. I loved reading this! I have a younger brother too. He's 13 right now though which means he's now risen to even more levels of things to annoy me. I will admit I'm probably more embarrassed/annoyed at my brother most days, but he's a cool kid. And he's funny. Really funny.

    PS can we please have the backstory about the name "The Rogue Accountant"??

    PSS Happy Birthday Chase!

  7. "...but I didn't care, because I smelled breakfast." <-- girl after my own heart :)

    What a precious tribute to Chase. He indeed has become a fine, young man.(I feel so old saying that but it's true.)
    I am so honored to know you and Chase.
    He's like my little brother, too!!

  8. I also have a little brother! Mine is three years younger and graduating from high school on Sunday. We've been best friends since my senior year of high school - before that we tended to coexist, occasionally fight, occasionally get along. I love having a brother. I actually wanted a sister when mine was born, and reportedly cried when I found out my little sibling was a boy, but I am so thankful now that God disappointed my three-year-old heart!

  9. Siblings are wonderful. My brother is one of my best friends in the world. We had our share of spats as kids, and still aren't afraid to tell it like it is. I'd trust him with my life and my secrets any day. He's charming and terribly smart and much cooler than I will ever be. I love him so much.

    When my baby sister was born, I had prayed for months she would be a girl...even had a bad dream at camp that she was a boy and I was devastated. I love that little girl more than words...she's going on 11 this year and I could not be more enamored with her. She's so smart and funny and kind, and has no idea her big sister is a huge dork. ;) I love our inside jokes and our special sister bond.

    God is cool.

  10. I'm the oldest of six kids, five girls and one boy. We're Pride and Prejudice/Fiddler on the Roof come to life with a brother as an addition :)

    I'm closest with my brother when it comes to books. He's my only sibling who reads the "weird" (so my sisters call them!) books that I like. We had a great conversation the other day about Sword in the Stars by Wayne Thomas Batson. It makes me ridicuously happy to have someone to talk to about books and I'm glad we have this in common.

    Great post! Happy Birthday to your brother!

  11. "Hush Puppies do wonders for tears."

    So true!