This is the story of how I got a new baby brother, 50 years late.
Ever meet someone and immediately you know you’ve made a connection? There’s chemistry, some say. Others claim it’s finding something in common that binds you. I don’t claim to understand. All I know for sure is that as I sat there talking to this bright young man, I wanted to know him better.
His name was Gary and we sat together in the tenor section at Ogontz music camp last year. This was before I was outed as a closet soprano, which I wrote about in “My Tenor Story, Part I” and “My Tenor Story, Part II.”
As a married woman, these particular experiences can prove a bit daunting. Fortunately, the fact that Gary is gay – and happily married to Carlos–eliminated that awkward sexual tension that can really mess up a budding friendship, never mind a marriage.
There was this line, from Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas In Wales, that I had sung in a few concerts, which kept running through my mind.
It snowed last year too: I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down
and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea.
That is the kind of relationship I sought, without realizing it. And Gary fit right in.
Too often, I think, we miss out on potentially valuable relationships because they don’t conform to accepted standards of “what’s appropriate.”
Yes, this is a post about negotiating those artificial barriers that too often limit our friendships. What might those barriers be? I came up with seven:
Feel free to add others you’ve experienced in the Comment section below.
- Have you ever had a friendship with someone whose education or income level is vastly different from yours?
- Ever wish you could befriend that young college student you met the other day, but held back?
- Ever sought out someone with a different sexual orientation than yours and engaged them in conversation?
As I write these out, I realize some of my favorite movies are based on these themes of crossing expected barriers.
You’ve undoubtedly heard “birds of a feather flock together.” It’s a simple metaphor that emphasizes how we are drawn to those most like us. Familiar often means safe. Comfortable.
But by limiting ourselves to the familiar, the comfortable, life becomes insular, leading often to the inevitable “us” vs “them” mindset which permeates our country today. I hope you’ll give this some thought.
But let’s get back to Gary. His innate kindness shown through that entire week as I watched him interact with other “campers.” His musicality was truly impressive. But it was his laughter, I think, that clinched it. I loved his exuberance. He was fun. I laughed when we got together and if you’ve read my memoir, you know I love to laugh.
James Boswell, is quoted as saying,
“I, who have no sisters or brothers, look with some degree
of innocent envy on those who may be said to be born friends.”
Gary, simply, would have to be my brother. My adopted brother. It was the start of something new; it was exciting. And, best of all, Gary agreed.
He calls me his “sister from another mister,” while I say “brother from another mother.” Together, we share absolutely no genetics at all.
Gary was at Ogontz this summer and took an evening off to come over to the house since I wasn’t going back this year. (Can you blame me?)
We had lobster.
My mother, who also came for lobster, has decided that Gary might very well be her “son from that night of fun.”
It’s all fun.
It’s especially fun to think of myself as an older sister. What kind of older sister I will be, though, only time will tell.
How about you? What constraints does your culture place on friendship? Do you see any metaphorical brothers on your horizon?
For more on my take on FRIENDSHIP, I offer this link to an earlier blog post series.