I have an older brother, Jimbo. He goes by James these days. When we were very young, he was expected to keep me safe if no adults were around. One of my earliest memories of his care was riding bikes to school together. He is three years older than me so his bike and legs were bigger and faster. I recall losing sight of him, even though I knew my way home, panic would rise in my body as the screams tore from my throat. Then I would see the school and calm down. His leaving me was forgotten and forgiven instantly. When we got older, I realized other kids either looked up to him or feared him. They also would either forgive his behavior or hide from him. He was gifted at sports, became a local football hero, was in magizens that touted his skills at bowling and football. This may have helped his self esteem and soften the blow about being a ready made baby sitter. Jimbo has always said what was on his mind. He seemed to be born without a filter. I admire this quality while fearing it at the same time as I have always weighed everything I say. An example for you. A friend of his, very good looking and knew it, said one day he felt he was never actually seen due to everyone always judged him by his looks. In a very matter of fact maner, my brother said, "If if bothers you so much, shave your head." A very typical Jimbo comment said with complete honesty and maybe a twinkle in his eye.
Somehow, my brother either had trasportataion or knew someone who did and as I entered my teen years, I became less of an embarrasement to him. This resulted in our spending a little more time together, voluntarily. I want to share one of the first times I got to hang out with Jimbo and a few of his friends.
He let me tag along to the gravel pit for a swim. If you don't know what I am talking about, google gravel pits. At the time, I didn't know it was an illegal past time but as we pulled up to the gate and fences, I saw the pit was surrounded by warning signs. With my brother there, I was fearless and scampered over the fence with my brother and his friends.
After we hiked to the edge of the pit, my brother and his friends began to dare each other to jump first. We grew up next to many lakes and no one hesitated about jumping in first. But this was.....illegal, forbidden, and much more exciting. I called them babies and lept off the edge at a dead run, as my brother told me I had to avoid the jagged rocks poking from the sids of the pit.
Looking back, I recall the thrill of flying through the air until I hit the cold water. I seemed to sink into the water that became darker the deeper I went, then it felt hours before I broke the surface to fill my burning lungs and rushed to avoid being hit by the next person to jump.
Now I know the fence was there for protection. Swimming there was forbidden due to the deadly lack of knowledge of the depth of the water, the bacteria, filth and disease lurking as well as the risky climb up the side of the deep hole to jump again.
If you are reading this, James, this is one of my fondest memories with you. Thank you for including me with your friends, even if it was just to get me to take the first leap.