Yep, it’s birthday season in the Ensign family! March, April, May, and June were always exciting months as a kid. And then expensive months as we got old enough to buy presents for each other. Regardless, it was always lots of fun.
Today it’s my brother Dylan’s turn. This one’s a little harder to write (in a sappy, emotional way) because my brother and I really suck at keeping in touch. We’re just lazy when it comes to reaching out for contact. That’s not so say we’re not close—quite the contrary. Dylan and I have always been close. He’s the best listener I know. We used to walk home from the bus stop every day* as I’d regale him with whatever minutiae of my day I remembered.** His patience is incredible (and not just for my babbling). He’s taught me a lot about how to live life in a relaxed way, without getting hung up on the little things that don’t really matter. When I have a decision to make, I know it’s always a good idea to consult my brother. He doesn’t always have the answer, but he knows what questions to ask to help point me toward the answer that’s been there all along. He’s a wise guy.***
We’ve always had similar taste in media as well. We split a BMG membership° when we were pretty young, and I still remember a few of the tapes we got from that first order: Empire by Queensryche, And Justice for All by Metallica, and I think there was some Aerosmith in there too. I’m certain Dylan would remember more. He’s always had a better memory for that stuff. As we grew up, he drifted more to the heavy-metal side (he knows more Scandinavian metal bands than I’ve even heard of), while I became poppier in my tastes (hello cheesetastic hair bands and pop-punk harmonizers!), but there’s always been some overlap.
In fact, as I recently wrote, Dylan was the one to get me interested in Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. He definitely jumped on the King train before I did. I remember him loving It (which I still haven’t read), and one of my most profound tv-watching memories is when we watched and videotaped the tv miniseries of The Stand. Dylan and I took turns manning the remote to pause it when commercials came on and un-pause it when the show was back. Yes, youngsters. Before the days of iTunes and Amazon Instant, we had to watch commercials or clip them out ourselves.
Anyway, back to the keeping-in-touch thing. Dylan and I (and my sister and my boyfriend-at-the-time) lived together in a big house for four years in the early 2000s. It was SO. GREAT. Many people thought I was crazy to live with my siblings, but I adored it. We all got along really well. And I got to see Dylan every day! In fact, we worked at the same place, so we carpooled too. I think that only helped make us lazier about keeping in contact. Eventually we moved out of that place and went our separate ways, but we still worked together, so I still got plenty of Dylan-time.
A couple years later though, I left that job. At the time, Dylan and I lived on different sides of the same block. And we didn’t see each other for about 6 months. Ridiculous! I know! But that’s just how we roll. Eventually I instituted a standing appointment that we’d hang out together every other week on Wednesday nights. If not for that, who knows when I’d’ve run into him again!
That arrangement held until I moved to Canada. Of course moving to a different country throws everything into confusion! As Dylan doesn’t use social media much at all (he’s not even on Twitter!), it’s become next-to-impossible to stay in touch. And though I haven’t talked to him much, I think about him all the time! He’s one of my favorite people in the world. The nice thing about our relationship is no matter how much time has gone by, when we do see each other again, it’s like no time has passed. We just have more stuff to talk about because there’s more to catch up on!
So I think this year for his birthday, my gift is going to be the pledge to do a better job staying in contact from here on in. His work schedule is erratic, and my work/podcast schedule is chock full, but that’s no longer an excuse. I miss my little bro, and gosh darnit, it’s time to do something about that.
*It was about a ¼ mile walk.
**Which was a lot. He used to marvel at my ability to recall entire conversations. I’ve always had an ear for dialogue.
°BMG was a subscription service from which you’d get cassette tapes (or later, CDs) in the mail. You got like 12 for a penny, and then they’d send you a new one every month (for lots of money) unless you told them not to.