In honor of National Brother Day I thought I’d write about my brother, Brian.
Brian is two years younger than me, and two inches taller (which doesn’t seem right, but whatever) and is really one of the best guys I know. He’s always ready to help, and is cool under pressure which – if you had a childhood like ours – was a vital skill.
And by “childhood like ours” I don’t mean to imply our childhood wasn’t good, or healthy or loving. It was those things. But it was also dangerous, and daring, and exciting – mostly because we made it that way.
Here’s the sort of stuff I’m talking about:
Our parents were born in Ireland – and because they were they liked to go to Irish events to comingle with other Irish immigrants and do Irishy stuff.
One Saturday when I was about 12 and Brian 10, they piled us in the station wagon and took us to an Irish dancing competition at a local middle school (think Riverdance for 7th graders) so that we could watch the children of other Irish immigrants bounce up and down to really fast Celtic music.
Whatever. Continue reading →
Do you play a sport?
I play soccer, and last night, on the way home from my game, I called my sister. When I called she was, coincidently, in the middle of viewing a soccer game on TV. She said she was watching the San Jose Earthquakes and was fascinated with the game because one of the Earthquake’s players was a kid she used to teach in school.
Now there was a time when I would have talked about the Earthquakes with her all night long – but that time was 1978. Back then I was a kid who not only played soccer, but watched other people play it too. I was so taken with the sport I filled my life with it. I’d research the best cleats to wear, and the best soccer balls to use – and that was before Google, when we used to have to go to a place called a “library” and look through things called “books” in order to find answers to our questions. Continue reading →
If you’ve read my column before you probably know that I spent chunks of my childhood in Ireland, where my family is from.
My parents would make the arrangements for my summer trips: where I’d stay, with whom, and for how long — and then take me up to SFO to board an Aer Lingus jet for the long flight to their homeland. Even though pretty young at the time (10 or 14 — or in there somewhere) I’d make the trip alone because, well, that’s what they could afford. But I wouldn’t really be alone. Back in those days you could pull aside a flight attendant and ask her to look after your kid, and she would. Or, she would as well as she was able between making coffee and bringing all the food they used to serve on airplanes to the throngs of hungry/thirsty/needy passengers.
On some flights I’d have an attendant checking on me every hour or two. And on some flights I’d actually have someone my parents knew, or maybe a friend of a friend, who happened to be going back for their summer in Ireland, who could watch over me. It was usually easier when I was actually with someone, especially when we got to New York, where sometimes I’d have to change planes.
But however the trip went, I always loved the part where we broke through the clouds over Ireland and there were green fields as far as the eye could see. It was both weird and wonderful, being from California, to see long green grass growing in the summer time, and it served as a reminder that I was travelling to a very different place that was sort of like a fairy-tale. People there spoke much differently than I did, and the steering wheels were all on the wrong side of the car, and there were donkeys on the roads and roofs made of thatch. It was sort of like being in Oz, only it was all the Emerald City. Continue reading →
When I was little I traveled to Ireland every few years or so.
My parents are from Ireland and took me and my brother and sisters back there during summers to stay with our grandparents. One morning, at Grandma Tierney’s house in Tipperary, my brother Brian and I decided to head down the fields in search of adventure. At the time I would have been about 12 and Brian maybe 10 or so. Continue reading →