Much of my adult life has been spent in the company of siblings.
Not my own.
My brother left home when he was 18. Prior to that, our relationship was as antagonistic and amiable as any sibling relationship is, with the added complications of our mom’s mental illness, absent fathers, absent family ties, shifting identities and personality types in polar opposition of each other. There are other siblings who share my blood, who I know of, but none of whom shared my life experiences or know much about me at all. They come from my father, a man who has spent approximately 5 minutes of his entire life giving any thought to my well being. As a result, more than anger or even interest I have complete apathy to those siblings. They’re not bad people, any of them (and there’s a lot). They’re just not people I was taught to care about, haven’t learned to consider and don’t feel a connection to. We will never be close either.
I’ve looked outside of my own home and my family for the connection I was sorely lacking. I found it, during my college years, in the form of a set of Dominican born, New York City raised twins from the Bronx. The three of us are kindred spirits, we share a deep understanding of eachother because we’re so similar and our personalities compliment eachother well: mild mannered, nerdy and fun.
They welcomed me into their home and lives and into their own sibling relationships. I went from feeling as though I had no one to having more than I bargained for ( which includes a whole family in the Dominican Republic).
For as much as they gave me by welcoming me into their lives and homes, there were always lingering doubts in the back of my head about my place in (not so much their lives) but in my own.
In the past few years, I’ve become close to another group of Brooklyn born and raised Salvadoran siblings, my friend and her 2 brothers. They’re hot tempered and occasionally crazy but they love each other fiercely and have the kind of relationship to each other that I could only dream to have with my own brother, warts and all.
In both cases, I have found myself in the middle of heated arguments, angry disputes, and even physical altercations. On the flip side, I’ve spent more time at intimate family gatherings, on the inside of emotional family moments, and gotten closer to these families than I have ever been and will ever be with my own.
But that lingering thought always remains, where exactly do I belong in all of this? These siblings are not my own. These families are not my own. As welcoming as they have been by cooking meals for me when I was hungry, buying me things, and spending time with me, I often wonder how exactly I fit into the larger picture. I wonder if I am drawn to these siblings through sheer coincidence, subconscious inclination or maybe even divine intervention.
Are they meant to show me what it’s like to feel emotionally or even physically close to someone who shares your own DNA? Am I meant to long for that same relationship in my own life? Do I even care to have what they have? Do I really even want it?
I’m not sure.
My time spent among siblings has been beautiful, enlightening, and even infuriating. I’m so close to these relationships, that they feel as though they could be my own. But they’re not. My own relationship with my brother, the one who I grew up with, remains an enigma. Complex and completely bewildering, while at the same time strangely comforting. I know as much about my brother as he knows about me, as much as either of us will allow the other to know. And that’s ok. But maybe it’s only ok because I’ve gotten my fill of sibling relationships outside of our own. Those other relationships have helped me reconcile the fact that we’ll never be close.
I talk about my friends often: “My friend said this” “My friends and I did that” It must be confusing to people. They must wonder how many friends I have or if I ever talk to my family at all. The answer is that I don’t have that many and not much. But my relationships with these siblings has made me feel as though I’m missing nothing in life. And maybe that’s the point. By being an outsider to these relationships I can appreciate them in a way that those who are in it don’t. I can benefit from them because I don’t truly have one of my own.
So in that way, maybe I’m lucky.
I’m an outsider, yes.
My place in the world confuses me, yes.
I’m lacking something, maybe.
Would I want it any other way? Probably not.