I have written a few posts already about my brother Ben. There is something about our memories from Ohio that keeps tapping me on the shoulder and reminding me they’re there. Today it was the time we went on a rollerskating date.
I was probably having one of my teenage whines about not having a boyfriend to take me out and have fun for the weekend. Ben decided he would treat me to a date of rollerskating. I was 18 years old, he was 8. We stood in line and as our turn came, the guy behind the counter seemed surprised it was Ben paying for both of us. We got our skates and off we went around the roller rink.
It was a Friday night so it was full of other teenagers. There was this one dude who kept trying to chat me up. Whenever he did, Ben would sit down and wait for me. He was only 8 remember? I was annoyed that ‘the dude’ was rude, butting in on our date. He even said pointing to Ben, “Does he have to be around you all the time?” I remember this moment so clearly. Looking at Ben, this young boy who loved his sister so much that he wanted to take her out, he had even insisted on using his own allowance money! He sat with his elbows on his knees, head hanging down a little but his eyes were truly as a little child depending on their guardian to make the right choice. Pleading eyes that said, “please don’t leave me”. There he sat waiting, watching me, who would I choose? I am no idiot. The dude was was blown off, I took Ben’s hand and we skated off together.
I remember how much fun we had. We laughed, we fell and helped each other up, showed each other our skating “skills”, half dancing to the music, totally singing along to all the songs we knew, we shared a popcorn at the snack bar, made fun of the weirdos, and then told mom about it later when she picked us up.
In my ignorant naiveness I probably thought we would be creating memories like that forever. That we would always be together somehow, or close by each other. It never once dawned on me that we would be so far apart. And that’s what hurts me now. That I didn’t create more of these wonderful memories before we all grew up.
Sometimes I wonder why I left. Other times I think I know why I left. And even though I was the one who did leave, part of me feels like he was taken from me. That little boy. Because the next time I saw him, he wasn’t so little anymore. I had missed so much of his growing up. Things I thought I would be a witness to. I thought I would always be there. I feel so sad knowing that I wasn’t.
Now, there is this space between us. The space that can be measured on a map. The space of time we’ve been apart. And the space our memories take up in my heart.
I am in my living room, in England, but my mind has wandered back to Ohio, 12 years ago, on a Friday night, in a rollerskating rink with one of my favourite people in the world. And I wish I could go back and relive it again. If I could, I would pay more attention to everything. What we talked about, what we laughed at, what we were wearing, all the details one holds dear when you feel like something has been lost.
Lost in the space between us.