I love my brother.
I really do .He is my friend my mentor, he listens to me rant and calmly try’s to teach me something wise.
He is everything a big brother should be patient, kind and loving.
He always has my back. He lives in New York and I miss him like crazy . Every day I call him .I usually call after I drop my kids
off early in the am, and always when I am in the car.
On the way to Juvie today we were talking, I was telling him about my week and this and that.
He then said “Well, have fun in Jail!!!” We both laughed.Then I said “It’s good I am going, it will give me a little perspective.”
“Well” he said in his brotherly way “You know, Nomsalach, It’s always about who you are standing next to”
“Yup” I answer. We say I love you, and hang up.
Today in Juvie was a little slow, I am not sure exactly why this group isn’t committing .They are present but still a little reluctant, we played some games talked about communication and the way we speak to each other .It was good, but everyone was a little fidgety.
Its ok, I know this is the process.Maybe it’s the camera. Maybe I was a little tiered.
I give out the writing exercise and I go sit next to one of the girls whose mask is tough as nails –
I know hiding underneath must be a very very sensitive hurt soul –I don’t see it yet, because she is so hard but I know it’s there.
She asks me to get her lyrics of some song.
“Can you get it Ms. ?” , “Will you get it Ms.?” , “Are you sure you can get it?” she pushes .
I look at her, “Am I going to get in trouble if I bring you those words?” I ask .
“I can bring and get you anything, BUT I can only give you what I am allowed to give you. Are you asking me to bring you something I can’t?”
A little smile is cracking
“Really?” I say
“I want this song” –she says
“Is it gang related?” I ask
“I’ll show you she says”- and asks me to find it on my phone.
I y-tube what she tells me, it takes me a few times to get the spelling right .
The song comes up, the man rapping looks like someone you would NEVER want to meet.
“Oh my goodness” I gasp .
“Who is that?” I say , and stupidly add,
“He is scary, really scary”
She looks at me,
“He’s my brother” Shit, I think.
“Your brother brother ?” I say (the consistency of my stupidity amazes me –but I can’t seem to stop -)
“From the same mom?”
“Or a brother, you know, form of speaking brother”
(Mind you this girl is Hispanic, brother is not really the form of speech they use –)
No, she says, he is my brother not but from same mother we have the same dad.
He looks so tough.
She looks at my phone, we are waiting for the music to up load.
“I don’t like it here.” she says
“I don’t like being with female
“I’m used to being with boys, there are too many girls here Ms.
“They are pissing me off
“They are in my face"
“Well” I say to her, “how long have you been here?”
“When do you get out?” I ask “May” she answers.
“OK, you are halfway there,you know, just choose who you stand next to, stand next to the girls who don’t piss you off .It’s really all about who you stand next to."
I smile inside, feeling my brother’s words come out of me with a little adaptation.
The song comes on, it is hard core –I don’t really understand what is being said (even when on the screen the words are clearly written out!)
She explains that her brother is dis’ing another gang .She is translating for me. I so can NOT bring her these lyrics.
She then says ;“Ms. I’m going cry” Funny how my toughest ones always tell me when they are about to cry, as if I would be shocked if they did.
“Why?” I say. “I miss my brother so much, he’s special, he’s the only one that cares about me, he keeps me clean, he doesn’t let me do drugs.
He has my back. I am not allowed to be with him, they think it’s too dangerous”
"Who?” I ask . “Everyone." She says . “But he’s not.”
“He’s trying to turn around, but he fights with my mom’s other kids.”
Looking at him and listening to these lyrics, I can’t imagine what that fighting might look like .Oyy, this is so complicated.
I look at the boy rapping on my phone.He could not be farther away from my very white very Jewish brother. I look at her, looking at him, and I know.I know what it is to love LOVE absolutely LOVE your brother.
I tell her, “I have a brother, he makes me feel safe, and he’s got my back too. He lives far away -and I miss him a lot.”
“Sometimes it’s just good to have someone have your back” I say.
I think of my brother who taught me how to ride a bike, tie my shoes, and read time.
He and my sisters sang as I walked down the aisle at my wedding.
He blessed the wine at all my children’s baby naming’s.
My brother is nine years older than me.
I worshiped the ground he walked on when I was a little girl, I still do a little.
Her brother is nine years older than her too.
I know that what this girl did with her brother is worlds apart from what I did with mine.
But there is a place in my heart that is content knowing she has him –
“Well” I say, “Maybe you can’t live with him, but when you get out, you will figure out how to be with him.”
"You’re lucky to have him” I say.
“I know Ms.” She says.
“You are too”
“I know” I say.
I hug her.
"So what about the songs?” she asks.
“We’ll see” I say.
And we both laugh.