I had expectations of what that moment would be like. The moment where I reveal to my brother I would be leaving the United States for a year. I would be selling off all of my possessions, quitting my job, and leaving.
I thought it would go something like this:
“Hey Derrick, I have something to tell you. I decided to move to New Zealand for a year, and I’ve already got my ticket.”
“What the fuck?! That is so stupid. That is possibly the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard”
My brother would probably laugh at me. He would probably think it was some joke. He would probably be angry with me when he realized I was serious about the trip.
In one of my recent posts when I revealed that I had lost both of my parents at a young age, I noted that my brother since then had been a pillar of strength for me. A stubborn, conservative, and sometimes linear minded pillar, but a support for me nonetheless.
Just like my father, my brother tends to learn towards the “normal” expected lifestyle; get a stable career job that provides health care, job security, and a retirement. And all he would talk about when he would get on my case for being irresponsible is the fact that he could retire comfortable in 25 years.
Hell, I can’t even plan months in advance. I tend to enjoy the very moment I am in. But the moment that I revealed to him I was moving to New Zealand was not at all enjoyable.
It was two weeks before I was to take the California Zephyr from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles, and then off to a place I knew nothing about. I just knew it was far away, and was the first country I would ever travel to, and it was all I wanted in my life at that moment.
My brother happened to be having a BBQ with a bunch of friends over that night, and I figured that by revealing it there, the environment and friends would help defuse any situation that followed.
“In a month, I am moving to New Zealand. I already have my ticket.”
“Good luck. But if you move to New Zealand, I will probably have no more communication with you.”
“Why?” I asked, confused.
“You’re my brother” I said, not understanding where he was taking this.
“No, sorry. If you move to New Zealand you are not.”
And then the conversation took a turn for the worse. He became slightly more aggressive, but overall he kept repeating one harsh line.
“You are not my brother anymore.”
My brother, my only direct blood left on this planet, had officially disowned me because I wanted to travel.
And had officially torn my heart out. Like that scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and he discarded my heart into the fire.
I hadn’t cried for nearly 3 years since I had found my father dead on our back porch.
For a person that felt as though he had no more tears to cry in his life anymore, I cried fiercely. I couldn’t understand how my brother could do such a thing to his little brother, especially since we were all each other had.
Apparently not. And apparently he was content not having a brother anymore because I wanted to chase my dream.
I left that day, and I wouldn’t speak to him for nearly 6 months. Well, in reality he wouldn’t speak with me.
His wife drove me home that night and I was balling the whole way. She tried to lighten up Derrick’s reaction but making the standard efforts at consoling, but it didn’t help.
And off I went. I said goodbye to my parents in the cemetery, I was on the train, and then taking my first steps onto foreign soil.
I emailed my brother and his wife updates just to assure them I was okay, but I was really doing it to show them I actually did it.
When my brother and I started talking again, it was over the Voxer walkie-talkie app. He almost acted as though he had never said anything, and he even accused me of not trying to talk to him. A friend of his, Nikki, had voice messaged me on Voxer asking how I had been doing, and also asked about my brother. I guess after telling her of our fallout she had a nice chat with him.
I still loved my brother, but deep inside I was still angry. How could he do such a thing to me? But I wanted to repair the relationship still. So, instead of staying in New Zealand for the full year, I chose to fly home 3 months early and surprise him on his birthday.
And surprised he was, but that was about it.
That day, and since that day, we have never really spoken about my trip. He has never shown interest in hearing about it. And even when I’ve gone on other trips like Haiti and we go to dinner to a pub after I return, he looks away watching TV when I talk about it to his wife, then comes back into the conversation with an, “Oh, yeah, cool.”
The rift between us has grown, and every time I am with him I now feel like it is out of obligation. Oh, how I would GIVE for some sort of small curiosity and support about my dream. But instead of having my father, mother, and brother telling me they are proud of something I am doing — I have nothing. No, I do have something, I have my dream and I am proud of myself for not letting it falter.
Dreamers will always face fierce opposition, even from family, but you still have to stand strong.
I have now accepted the fact that my brother will never understand the life I have chosen. I know he means the best for me, and just wants his little brother to be safe, but his lifestyle choice isn’t my lifestyle choice. I will still go on traveling and doing what I love.
I have yet to tell him that I am leaving for Thailand in November. I know how he will react, but I hope he won’t rip out my heart again.
How did you reveal your travel plans, and how did your family react?