I probably have dozens, biologically. My father got around. Nick is my brother. The only one. We grew up on East Street with my sick grandmother and absent mother. We did not have a happy childhood and I was a lousy sister.
Nick was such a weirdo.
He was a peanut. You guys know I am only 166cm/5’5″ tall, right? I was this tall when I was 10 and this made me a proper giant. Nick was always running his mouth and pissing someone off (not because he was in the wrong, you see. If he said he could do something he would do it and that often annoyed folks. We lived in a poor white trash neighbourhood and Nick was the closest we had to black and that made him the uppity black kid. He was smart, quick and a pain in the ass).
I broke up a lot of fights.
He rode my pink bicycle around the block and pretended like he did not care. He smashed his face up on the pavement on the regular and disappeared for hours into the hole he and my cousin, Matt, dug in the garden. They were filthy beasts, the two of them & they made me bonkers. They asked me stupid questions and stole my stuff and hid it just to watch me look for it. When I would not rise to the occasion, one of them would get bored and give it back to me. They were little shits but they loved the hell out of each other.
We moved away into a house that did not have pigeons living in the attic (I missed those pigeons leaving feathers in my books) and Nick changed. He grew quiet and grey & did not tell me to quit it when I pinched him (even if it left a mark). I told you already that I was a crap sister and when my mum got that monster boyfriend, I tuned out and saved myself.
We moved again to that shitty house in Coventry that had perfectly fine bedrooms (they put snakes in them) but we had to sleep in the basement with no doors. Nick had this thing that he would take apart the electronics and make them work better but 36% of the hardware was left behind.
I had asked my mother why she loved him more than she loved me. She shrugged and said he was just easier to love.
(He is, you know. I have not met a single person that hates him.)
Gone were the days of Nick dancing to Bobby Brown records and wearing neons so bright that I thought I might possibly go blind (because even as kids I was a ghoul) and the bmx racing that I could not help but notice he was really fucking good at and that was something else my mother downplayed and made about her. He got his legs moving so fast that I could not see his thighs — parts of his body just disappeared. He loved racing. My mother hated the people that got him into it. Okay, yeah, there is some drama there and whatever but you get over that when your kid is in love with an activity that gets them into s p a c e
I left and did not see Nick much.
He lived not far from me when he lived with the tuna feeding foster mother. We ate a lot of grilled cheese and I filed paper work to get custody of him (I worked for AmeriCorps then and I had a few loopholes open to me).
They said I was not old enough.
I was on bedrest because I went into premature labour with Isobel. Nick brought me a Playstation. I played SimCity for days in a row. I was so broke and so thankful for the distraction. I had nothing and my little brother had even less and he made sure I was taken care of.
You know, that little shit that would go through my bureau looking for my candy stash (because I always had one. I had Halloween candy until June). That brat that I had a tennis racket fight with until we busted each others faces open. The creep that I tied into a laundry bag.
Yeah, him. He was making sure I was okay… coming by to make sure I had enough cheese and fake butter to keep me in the grilled cheese (all I wanted to eat while I was pregnant) and sitting with me so I was not alone.
We were pitted against each other for our mother’s affection & I detested him because he always won – and here we were, all of these years later, raising each other up, with no sign of her at all.
Nicholas grew up to be good and kind, despite being told he was an animal (understand that she loved him the best but that does not mean much). Nicholas is a great husband and an outstanding father in defiance of being raised by a woman that only knew how to take affection & zero idea how to give it. He lives his life on the straight and narrow without manipulation or cruelty.
Even though if he did, it would be expected. He evolved out of what was expected of him.
I am so very proud of him.
Happy birthday, Nicholas.