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August 13, 2007

 

-- Essay --

 

When a brother goes off to college

By Bruno Werneck

SIMSBURY, Connecticut - I sit down at my computer and double-click on the small internet Explorer icon. My homepage, cnn.com, pops up in an instant, blaring out news of death and destruction. But I have no interest in oversea occurrences or the government’s latest blunder.

All I can concentrate on is finding out why the brother with whom I shared a room for 10 years will leave an empty one, still full of memories, behind.

I need to know why the little kid who shared my Legos building cars and trucks will now, as a man, build something else – a promising bridge into the future.

I want to figure out why the friend with whom I laughed, cried, and fought will no longer share these emotions with me but with strangers.

As I search the web for some counsel, some advice, I come across only false tracks and false hope. Google provides dozens of sites dedicated to helping the graduate move on, but not one is devoted to his family.

Nowhere do I find out why.

Why should a 17-year-old have to find his place in the world when he has not known any other home but his own?

Why should a teenager whose interests are still forming be forced to select his life’s work so soon? Why should all his relationships, forged slowly by time and effort, be suddenly and so insensibly torn?

Growing up surrounded by traditional Brazilian values, I was always taught that the family is the basis of any decision.

The family is the rock – the anchor – in a world where insecurity and unpredictability reign.

The principles that were instilled in me from birth differ so drastically from what the American lifestyle and dream are founded upon that I find myself utterly confused.

While my American ideals advocate individuality, change, and personal development, my Brazilian ones find that unity and maintaining a strong family bond is much more important. Therein the problem lies.

Should I let go or hold fast? Should I dwell on fact or question reason? Should I advance myself or cherish others – surely there is no time for both?

As I sit at my poorly lit desk, illuminated only by the glare of the computer screen, I feel completely lost. I was hoping and praying that graduation day would relieve my tension and bring some release to my situation.

But, for now, I feel all the more exasperated.

I begin reminiscing about the past and what those years have meant to me, when I make a startling discovery – I cannot remember.

In all honesty, the last half-decade of my life has been disappointingly meaningless. There is no single event on which I can settle safely and enjoy a nostalgic security. All I can recall are hazy, hollow moments strung together like a feebly made necklace.

I have never, in recent memory, told my brother once that I loved him or sat down by his side to simply talk.

And now, when I most regret this truth, I can’t seem to find the strength to change it.

 


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