Well, I just got back to Boston from my sister’s wedding weekend in New Jersey. It was a whirlwind weekend of activity and emotions, but it was incredible. The wedding was as perfect as it was elegant and so infused with Lara and Peter’s personalities. If I could go back and relive every moment of yesterday again, I would. Though I kept reminding myself to slow down, pay attention, and appreciate every moment, against my will time went by way too quickly. When official pictures show up, I’ll be sure to relay them to you all. And I know my sister will be writing her own blog post filled with so much emotion and eloquence when her and Peter return from their excursion to Barbados.
Despite being almost always busy all weekend, I did manage to find time to throw in a run. Mainly, I needed time to myself so I could put together all the ideas, phrases, and memories into the speech I was to give at the wedding. Early on a brisk (frigid really) Saturday morning, I took to the hills and roads I grew up around on Lake Hopatcong. Now, I’ve never seen Heartbreak Hill, but I can tell you in preparation for it, I’m going to go back to Hopatcong and do sets of hill runs this winter. I left, ran over a bridge to get to the mainland, and then ran along the roads that lead to my father’s house.
I took a detour to the right that was part of my 5k loop that I would run in high school. For the briefest of times in American history, Lake Hopatcong was one of the foremost resorts for the East Coast elite at the turn of the century. Traces of this time are all around my town in the form of a few remaining estate houses and locks of land with incredible vistas. At one time there were fifty hotels on my lake. Not one remains. This makes the area I grew up in at once beautiful and sad, there is a collective second hand memory that everyone shares, but no one truly experienced. At about the halfway point, I stopped at a waterfall to throw some water on my face, which immediately woke me up from my half asleep running daze and got me focused on thinking about the speech.
I ran over the River Styx Bridge — yes, just like the River Styx in Greek myth, dropped by my house to grab some water and then really kicked it in for the last four miles when I finally found my stride. My calves were on fire, my knees were aching, I almost forgot how hilly Hopatcong is, some of the verticals are like climbing steps. As soon as I got back to the house, I immediately set to work on the speech, so here it is:
Peter probably knows this is coming, but he can’t stop me now. I would like to recount the first time I ever met peter. Let me bring you back to a warmer than usual day in March of 1997. The ground was already thawed and all the ice had gone from the lake. It was an afternoon after school, and my sister had brought Peter to our house. Being slightly precocious, but mostly being eleven years old and annoying, I seized on the opportunity to put Peter through the motions. After all, my sister had decided to bring this guy over to our house to interrupt our world. These were mostly physical feats, and Peter being dexterous and nimble performed them admirably. That is, until we got down to my dock, where – in an attempt to add a panache to simply jumping over my rowboat, he did a three sixty that took him over the boat, clear to the others side, and right in to the frigid lake. Needles to say Peter made quite a splash in my life that day. Since then Peter has become the brother I’ve never had. He taught me how to drive stick , sometimes at the cost of his own beloved car. Through him I listened to music that has become the soundtrack to my life. There have been camping trips and road trips, beer, whiskey, and wine, dominoes games, loss and gain, hours of endless conversation. I can truly say without reservation, that the impact Peter has had on my life has made me the man I am today. I look forward to the next fourteen years and beyond and see the men we become together.
Whenever anyone asks what my sister is like, my response is to say that it is statistically impossible to dislike my sister. I know this for a fact. My sister is more than a sister. She is the greatest friend I ever will have. From the picture of you sucking your thumb in frustration the day I came home from the hospital being held in dad’s arms to just a little while ago seeing you married, we have already lived a full life together. We have swum to the island in our cove countless times and will continue to do so. We have sled down out hill in the timelessness of childhood winters as fires warmed us inside with mom’s hot chocolate. Spending summer night’ sleeping on our screened in porch as mom read to us. Vacations on the outer banks, radio shows that weren’t really radio shows because we videotaped them Driving in your first car when you put Del Amitri’s Roll to Me on replay. My eighteenth birthday where you made embarrassing pins and handed them out to all my high school friends. Visiting you in Western Mass in photography school and for the first time feeling responsibility and being an adult. Along the way, your friends have become my friends. The experiences of our lives intertwine like a strange knot that I don’t ever want to unravel. Missing our mother will be a void that will never be filled. But, with you, with each other, I know our lives will continue to be full and that our futures may be separate in identity, but unified by a bond that needs no explanation.
You and Peter together are the strongest part of my family. Your support and love for each other is as undeniable as it is apparent. Peter, I am proud to call you my brother. Lara, I am fortunate and honored that you are my sister. I look forward to the next years and the years after those of your marriage and your lives together. I love you both.
Song stuck in my head – When I’m 64 – The Beatles ( I didn’t have this in my head while I ran, but my sister danced with my father to this song last night. Every spring cleaning, my parents would put on Beatles records as we brought out deck and lawn furniture, scrubbed screens, and washed winter off of our windows. I can still see my mother dancing to this song. In fact, I did last night when my sister was dancing)