I am flying directly over the Grand Canyon on my way to Los Angeles, which is uniquely appropriate.
My one and only trip to the Grand Canyon was as a kid, with my little brother, Ben. Some time later, Ben would travel down an assortment of paths that would ultimately lead him to LA, estranged from our family, under the name Tye Mohawk.
Our intention is to meet up in LA, if only briefly, before our chosen lifestyles send us in typically opposite directions. Full disclosure - despite our diametrically opposed dispositions, I never stopped loving Ben...but I fucking hate Tye Mohawk.
The emotional distance we've had to traverse for this potential meeting to occur makes the historic natural void under my plane look like a pothole. By the age of 26 I had grown perfectly comfortable with the idea that I may never see my brother again. Some bridges burn too damn well, and with enough erosion, opposite sides of a canyon can seem unworthy of bridging.
I take responsibility for our relationship flatlining. I quit trying. He did too, but that's not the point. I'm the pragmatic, stable brother, and he's the needy emotional vagabond. I always knew that, but I guess at a certain point I got tired of doing the work for which I was better suited.
What ensued has essentially been a four year staring contest. No winner, no loser, no contact, nothing even slightly resembling a blink.
If not an outright bridge builder, my son has certainly provided a constructive environment in which a bridge could exist.
The day my son was born, I received an unexpected Facebook message. The name attached to it was Tye Mohawk, but the message was from Ben. I communicate with each of them largely through the exchange of specifically targeted four letter words, with distinctly different emotions conveyed. When a message contains the word "love" I know exactly which of his personas is behind it.
Given the distance between us over the past several years, I've never been less qualified to analyze my brother's motives. Maybe he recognizes some degree of wrongdoing and wishes to rectify past mistakes. Maybe he accepts no responsibility whatsoever, and simply feels the birth of my son is worthy of acknowledgment regardless of our personal differences. I don't know.
I do know that being a father supersedes everything else in my life. If I am going to pass on the best parts of myself to my son, I need to exercise those qualities at every turn. I need to be the big brother my parents taught me to be. I need to end the ridiculous staring contest. I need to blink and pick up the phone. After that we'll see.
Who knows? Maybe one day Gabe's uncle and I will take him to the Grand Canyon, and explain how he is the reason we can stand on the same side.