Over the past couple of weeks, you’ve seen your Uncle Mark more than you had for the first two-plus years of your life.
He and your Aunt Caitlin have finally moved back to Pittsburgh after spending the past five years on the road as traveling physical therapists. They explored the country to their hearts’ desires and helped hundreds of people heal their bodies, but we’re very happy to have them back home.
Even though you’re not as familiar with him as your Mom and I or your grandparents, I know you love catching up with Mark (partially because he makes you giggle with his funny faces and voices), but I’m going to go out on a limb and say I enjoy having him around just as much as you do.
Part of it is nostalgia (There’s your word of the day!). I’m assuming most adults experience some of that when around their siblings, especially when you only have one of them.
No matter how many years might separate now from then, it’s amazing how quickly my mind scoots back to some random memory at a moment’s notice. Like that time Mark woke up 10 minutes before we had to leave for school. Oh wait, that was multiple times per week.
The joy I feel being around Mark is about more than throwbacks, though. Because of work and family changes, we’ve basically grown into men apart from each other. The last time we spent more than a couple of weeks in the same area was 2007, when I was a senior at Marshall University and he was a freshman.
We have some catching up to do.
What’s interesting is that, as we’ve both crept into our 30s, we’ve shared that we each have had similar thoughts about finding our significance in life. I suppose that’s a natural struggle after you realize that your career isn’t always going to make you feel good about yourself — even if it’s the field you strived to get into.
In a response to this, both of us have begun journaling about our #lifegoals and how we might go about achieving them, to varying levels of success. He’s been a little more dedicated than me, but now that we’re in the same area code, we’ve had the opportunity to compare notes on our experiences.
This has been a different kind of connection for us, since most of our brotherly bonding has occurred through sports. Wednesday night was a great example of that, as we played in a rare, exhilarating outdoor pickup hockey game at North Park.
Hockey isn’t Mark’s No. 1 sport — that would be soccer — but I take it he enjoys the challenge of keeping up and gradually improving. It was the kind of informal outing I’ve been looking forward to ever since he and Caitlin decided to end their work travels.
There might not be time to chat about life, love, and career when cruising to the net on a two-on-one, but there’s something to be said for just being in the same space. If nothing else, there’s more opportunity for the little snippets of communication that wouldn’t necessarily inspire a text message or a phone call.
It was a little too cold Wednesday to get you out there on frozen pond with us, which makes me look forward to the spring and summer even more. Last August, the same weekend Mark got married, you joined us for a soccer kick-around on the infield of the North Hills track and watched us mount a few rallies on a tennis court near your grandparents’ house in West Virginia.
You even got to take a few racket swings for the first time, with direction from your uncle. (He’s always had more ability than me in that arena, so I’ve got no problem with that!)
Hopefully, it’s the first of many quality moments with Mark in the coming months and years. Hopefully, sports can bring you together like it has for him and me.
With the way you’ve taken to playing big-boy hockey out in the garage on some of the warmer winter days, I have little doubt we’ll be spending much of our time jumping from activity to activity.
And hopefully, if you have a little sibling someday, you can create your own shortcut to brotherhood.
Or sisterhood. No preference. I swear.
DAILY STATS via Apple Watch
Calories burned (active): 1,822 (new record!)
Minutes exercised: 121
Hours stood: 16
Steps taken: 16,480
Physical activity: Six-mile training run, hockey game