Whenever I think of my sweet face baby brother, I see him as the little blonde-haired, blue-eyed cherub that he was when he was two. He was so ornery growing up but had a soft spot in his heart for his three "guhlies" (girlies) that were me and my two sisters. Mom once told me that when we had gone to spend the night at a friend's house that Lloyd wandered the house crying for his "guhlies" to come home. We dressed him up like a girl and painted his toenails and all sorts of other torturous big sister games that only a little brother would tolerate until his dad came home one day and threatened to beat all three of his daughters if they put one more dress, application of lipstick or hair barrette on HIS boy! Good thing we still have photos, huh?
My brother was always a charming, funny, and ass-kicking machine like I was. He was only eleven when I moved out and I always felt a little guilty leaving him behind. Not because the rest of my family was totally psycho or anything. (Maybe a smidgen of psycho.) But I missed all of his middle school and high school years because I was living and working on the East Coast and he was all the way out in El Paso. (Yeah, the tee-shirt is pretty accurate. El Paso actually IS 10 miles from water and 3 feet from HELL.) And while I got to see him when I went home to visit for holidays every year or two, I missed out on all of his shenanigans and first dates and swim meets and prom and graduation. I wish I could have been there for that....sort of. I wish I could have sheltered him from some of the crazy he had to endure during the years that led to my parents eventual divorce.
By that time, I was working in Greece.
Just before I shipped out to Athens, I drove out to El Paso to drop off a bunch of stuff that I didn't want to take with me for fear it would get lost or destroyed. So I drove for three days with my suitcase of dirty laundry (to keep my sisters from hijacking all my clothes because they CERTAINLY wouldn't wash them before swiping them), a box filled with my high school diploma, awards from work, yearbooks and my mom all packed into my car. (Yeah, Mom only has one leg and I had a 5-speed Ford Escort so she was sort of along for the ride....and to tell me to slow down a lot.) I spent about a week with them and then my brother offered to drive back to Baltimore with me. COOL.
It was a great trip. Except when he got a speeding ticket about 4 miles outside of El Paso city limits. And except for when we stopped to eat cat fish at a truck stop outside of Nashville and they towed my friggin' car basically because it had out of state tags and it cost me about $150.00 to get it back and delayed our arrival to Baltimore by about 6 hours. I still hate Nashville because of that. But my brother and I had the laughing-est, singing-est, fun time during those three days on the road. I haven't seen him but about 5 or 6 times since then. Damn. That was back in 1992.
I'm thankful that we both have Facebook and Skype and email. If it weren't for that, we'd never hear from each other. But thanks to the internets we have an awesome relationship. And the last time I saw him back in May 2010 at a mini-family reunion outside of Austin, I spent several hours just talking to him and it was like we hadn't been apart at all. I love my brother so much. I'm very proud of him. He's a Navy veteran. He's a fantastic chef and butcher and has a plethora of knowledge about cheese. In fact, during the Whole Foods market 2008 "Crack Heard Round the World" attempt to break the Guinness Record for cutting the most wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese open simultaneously, MY brother "cut his cheese" in 1 minute and 36 seconds....which is TOTALLY AWESOME! (Click here to watch Lloyd kick cheesy ass!) (He's the cute guy on the right!)
Lloyd is one of the coolest, smartest, and funniest people I ever had the pleasure to meet. I think he and I would be friends even if we weren't siblings. He's just that great a guy. And I miss him.