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Like many children with older siblings, I was always prone to heated arguments with my older brothers. As the youngest and only girl of three children, I was constantly subjected to my brothers’ tormenting habits. Whether it was praying for God’s protection as I was dangerously swung around by my feet (“The Giant Swing”) or grasping for breath as my ribcage was burdened with the weight of another, I had experienced every possible form of older sibling torture. However, never did I imagine that one of our frequent quarrels could end so oddly.
During March of 2006, my mother and I visited my eldest brother, Randy, while he was studying abroad in London, England. After waking up at the disgusting hour of seven in the morning, torture in itself, Randy met us at the hotel to act as our tour guide. It was evident from the moment I saw him that his arrogance had acquired European twist. It even emanated from his hair. The Euro-Trash.
We departed from the hotel and headed for London’s premiere form of transportation, the underground tube. At this particular station, an elevator carried us down to the train. Because of the excessive amount of people, Randy and I were forced to be within an even closer proximity of one another. As we rode in the elevator, Randy flicked my head about every three seconds, increasing the pain with each flick.
Eventually, we arrived at the train and traveled to the site of the towers of London. This site contained a multitude of exhibits displaying numerous English artifacts. To view each exhibit, we had to stagger up narrow and winding stairs. These stairs were barely wide enough for one person and we had to maneuver our way up the stairs while squeezing past those walking down the stairs.
Exhaustion finally took its toll on me after four or five hours of the agonizing repetition of motion. The instant I began to express my tiredness, my brother commenced his mockery of me. Comments dripping with sarcasm flew out of his mouth and brutally attacked me. Unable to effectively defend myself against these harsh remarks, I attempted to ignore them.
About an hour later, we were back on the tube, heading to a restaurant for dinner. The train was terribly crowded, but after a few minutes on the ride, I managed to find a seat. Surrounding me was my family and just about every other person in London. After a few more minutes on the train, Randy started, once again, with his teasing. Every potential insult was hurled at me, each insult gaining more momentum and power than the last.
As the vexation continued, factors such as crowdedness and the pungent odors of those too close for comfort began to increase my irritation. Finally, I was unable to handle the situation. “Shut up and leave me alone!” I screeched, my voice going up several octaves. I even cursed loudly at Randy, in the presence of my mother, something I had never dared do before. We initiated horrible bickering that had no shame.
Then I broke down. Crying, that is. The tears refused to stop, despite my desperate pleading. So there I was, sitting in an overcrowded, extremely uncomfortable train, while all the English locals stared. No empathy. Just annoyance.
Upon his realization that I truly was upset, he abruptly ended the tormenting. He attempted to fix the situation with humor. Our usual routine of Randy reciting humorous bits until I cave and forgive him failed horribly. His words had hurt too much for humor to rectify.
The train ride finally ended and I was still in tears. Randy sent my mom back to the hotel so that she could freshen up for dinner. He dragged me to Hyde Park, where I was forced to have a “heart to heart” with my asinine brother.
Although it seems mildly cliché that it rectified the problem, it honestly fulfilled its objective. The contents of the conversation were completely irrelevant to the argument we had encountered. Despite the irrelevancy of the conversation, it allowed me to view my brother in a new light. Never before had I witnessed Randy as a real person, someone other than “Mr. Personality.” He shared with me awkward phases from his youth and connected with me for probably the first time that I can recall.
As much as I would adore saying that we ceased fighting that day, it would be surreal. We quarrel, bicker, and argue constantly. However, there is one key difference. No matter how often we fight, nothing can snatch away my memory of walking back to the hotel with my brother’s arm around my shoulders and the realization that we had actually connected.