My brother’s name was Scott: Taco Bueno, Part 1

My brother’s name was Scott: Taco Bueno, Part 1

I knew you to be there, even at 3 and a half years old. Those opaque, numbered days as a small child in a house of many. Sunbeams filtered through the upstairs hallway as I tip-toed down to your room, the floorboards giving me away under their 100-year-old weight.

Your room was at the end of the hall, and I wanted to peak in, perhaps, and catch a glimpse of you. The ceiling light that hung just inside your door reminded me of a skeleton, plastic and groovy-looking, and I would stare at it sometimes when you weren’t there. But today you came out of your bedroom door before I could get there, and you smiled at me, bonking me on the head with a rolled-up piece of paper. This is my first memory of you. Brother.

You were sarcastic and funny, and sometimes I felt you weren’t allowed to be mine, that my time with you didn’t count. You left when I was 3, graduated and gone. My memories with you were limited to the times you’d come home, arms full of gifts at Christmastime and trips to the airport to fetch you. We’d sit on the viewing deck of the airport and watch the planes land, our breath blowing cold in the frost, every plume of jet fuel a fascination to me.

Then there you were, laughing and looking just like the rest of us with dark hair and brown eyes. You slipped back into the fold and our small town for a few days, then skipped away just as fast. But everyone knew where we, and you, belonged.

“You’re a Sundheimer, aren’t you?” they’d say, fitting us neatly into a package, a puzzle piece in a 2000-part mosaic. And that’s how small towns are wont to do, make sure they know where to file you and pluck you out, so the world doesn’t rotate off its axis.

You moved to Florida, and we’d receive pictures every so often, of roommates and palm trees and cosmetology school you were attending. Every picture had different faces to examine as the years would pass, and I would pore over each detail wondering who they were and why we never met them. I felt their faces were a clue into your life that I could never solve.

One day we did visit your tiny apartment on the gulf coast, and I remember how it was tucked off the street with tropical foliage obscuring it from full view. We had dinner with you and your roommate in your home, and I watched him as he shook hands with us and made us dinner with hands that were trained as a chef.

The ‘80s were a decade of excess that embraced me as I grew into a teenager. You moved to Dallas and up, up and up into a high-level position at a big-name hair care company. And we would see you, sometimes, at Christmas or in summer. I never wondered why you didn’t marry because I knew. It was never talked about in front of me, in open spaces where the words would echo so loudly. If there were spoken moments held behind closed doors, I wasn’t privy to them, but there were none that needed said because I knew. Words change nothing anyway.

A tribe is immovable, hot blood coursing through your veins, and no matter if you strip those pulsing lines of iron from where they rest, it doesn’t change your tribe. You moved to Nashville and ever upward, with a new roommate and house. And my boyfriend George, now my husband, came to stay for Christmas and you came too.

There was much laughter and merriment, but strangeness as you wouldn’t sleep in the bed offered you. The couch was fine, you laughed, I’ll be fine on the couch. And George asked me later, as we lay by the Christmas tree with the twinkles of greens and reds splaying off our faces, “Is your brother gay?”

I looked at him, and for the first time in my life, I said out loud the thing that had never been said, at least in front of me, “Yes, he is.”

Next week, Part 2.

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