Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Baby Gap

I am one of four children. The youngest. The caboose. The (ugh) BABY. Yep, I'm a 22 year old baby--and it's never going to change. I find that most people with siblings at one time or another struggle with their position on the totem pole. I have friends across the board; the eldests, who hate setting examples and testing the waters, the middles, who are sometimes lost in the shuffle amongst everyone else, but I have always personally have had a soft spot for the kids rounding out the bottom. The babies.  

My siblings and I are all two years apart. Do the math and you're looking at six years from top to bottom. Not bad when you're 36, 34, 32 and 30, I'm assuming, but growing up it felt much different. It felt like a big game of "catch up"... that WOULDN'T END!! Not to mention our house was like a perpetual episode of Survivor, one sibling being voted out leaving for college every two years. "The tribe has spoken, it's been 18 years now get your ass out of here." Through my tunnel vision, my brothers and sister were moving through life at what seemed like super sonic speed (and may I add, together). I constantly felt two thousand steps behind. 

I can't speak for all babies, but this baby was a little bit salty jealous about how infinite the age gap seemed. I remember being on family vacations, envious that my 16, 18 and 20 year old siblings could stay up late out by the beach, drinking beers and having a good time. I mean, I don't blame them... A) who in their right mind would give a 14 year old a beer (I wasn't that hard core) and B) we didn't have anything to talk about. I didn't get their humor, their jokes, their stories.

Did I also mention that all three of my siblings went to college together? Well sort of...My oldest brother and sister attended the same college, two years apart, but shared a decent number of mutual friends. My younger of the older brothers, followed my sister two years later at another college in the same city. Oldest brother stayed in said college town after graduating, which placed them all in the same city for roughly two-ish years . Were they all hanging out every weekend having a great time? Probably not. But it didn't matter to me. I was embarking on two years of living ALONE with my parents (a challenge none of them had had to endure at this point). But there were advantages. I developed relationships with my friends that were unparalleled. They were my family when my siblings weren't around. When I needed to escape the very tight confines of my home. And looking back, our relationships may not have grown the same had we not had that time. 

Maybe I was just hung up on what a brother-sister-brother-sister relationship was suppose to look like, but it felt like every time I got closer to the collective "them", they were one step ahead (case in point, I turn 18, start my first year of college and my brother has to go get MARRIED). I think at that point I just dove head first fell into the gap... 

So how does it all end? Well it doesn't...its more of a continuing saga. The gap will always exist, but now, its infinity seems more manageable. Turns out it was less a game of "catch up" and more a waiting game. The gap hasn't disappeared, but its slowly closing in. And what's really changed? We're still in different places. Maybe now more than ever. 28, 27, 24, 22. Pittsburgh, Maryland, Elmira, Philadelphia. A father, starting a family of his own, a teacher, eager to move wherever life (and love) take her next, a (near) graduate, ready for a fresh start, and a student, counting the days waiting for her life to really begin.   

So babies, this is my realization: I may never "catch up", but I feel like its finally an even playing field. And the best part? My siblings are finally, well, my friends..

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