Every few weeks or so, I write an email to my brother. Now I know you’re probably sitting there chewing on a jam fancy and sipping a cup of tea hoping against hope that something interesting will give you an excuse to stay away from the real world a bit longer and are now sarcastically saying to yourself well whoopdedoo… how mundane. But before you take another bite of your jam fancy and go looking for some interesting boob shots (my advice: avoid Facebook), let me tell assure you that me writing an email to my brother is actually news. Well, to me.
You see, he doesn’t read them.
At least, I don’t think he does.
I imagine them flickering into his inbox and being deleted with a thud. Dead letters.
It’s a long story, but no longer or uglier than your average family dysfunction saga. Suffice to say, he doesn’t talk to me. And it’s not my fault. It’s our mother’s.
Anyway, I find it intensely difficult to write those emails. I have to ask myself if I’m doing it out of some perversity but if that were it, I’m sure there’s more rewarding way to be a masochist. It’s not about pain. It’s about honouring what I say and what I feel, even if it makes me or others uncomfortable. A lesson I’m trying to learn.
I’ve only been able to do this for a relatively short time because it was only last year that I finally got hold of an email address for him, after ten years of silence. I was more or less a child when we last spoke. Now, I’m finding that there is another difficulty in this one-sided correspondence and it has nothing to do with trauma or baggage.
Carrying on a conversation when you’re not sure if the other person is listening actually requires courage and not a little skill. I have new found respect for people who talk to themselves. And I don’t mean just muttering in the supermarket about what was left off the list or what will happen to Little Johnny when you get home – I mean the ones who vocalise all day long. What stamina they must have! How fascinating they must believe themselves to be!
The thing is, I have nothing to talk about. The only people who are up to the task of feigning interest in my days filled with dribble and failing dismally at ‘keeping house’ and breastfeeding highs are lows are other people with children. My brother was always pretty unimpressed by babies and as a gay man it seems the odds are against him having any. Although in truth I hold a secret hope that one day he’ll reply to say that he and the talented and beautiful lover I have imagined for him are adopting a child and could I possibly share with them my vast knowledge of modern cloth nappies. Or something like that. And I suppose that’s what all this comes down to, isn’t it? Hope.
Writing a blog is hopeful. It says I have something to say and it says I think what I have to say is worth someone else’s time to read. Or maybe it just says something about our net-obsessed world and our insatiable desire for making the private public, in a fashion. Whatever it is, I enjoy it. It doesn’t feel in the least masochistic. (At least, not for me. I can’t speak for you, dear reader…)
If only all writing was so easy.