Writing Life Stories: My Brother Jim’s

When we tell our life stories, it doesn’t mean that we are telling stories that are necessarily “exciting” in one way or another. Leaving a feeling of what life was like is a part of storytelling. This provides others with a sense of an ordinary day, it gives a glimpse of a moment in time.

I was talking to my brother the other night about how it is possible to take a month off from a regular schedule and experience a new life for a little while. It happened for him when he was between jobs. And it happened for me during a month when I was in Wisconsin. For him, he still did a part time job while he was looking for work. For me, I was still working full time during the day at my job in financial services, but from a different location.

I was able to escape my usual routine in the Bay Area and settle in to the pace of a midwestern summer where everyone is grateful for those golden days when the sun shines and you can ride your bike at the lakefront and plant flowers in your front yard. You can even sit out on the patio for a few minutes before the mosquitos start to gnaw on your arms and legs.

In California, we take for granted those golden days. We have so many of them strung together before us. Even when we have the fog, still, where I live just north of San Francisco, it is overcast in the early morning. You wake up, you get your coffee and sit for a bit considering the opportunities that a Saturday presents and by the time you make up your mind to some direction, the sun has come out and you are ready to go.

My brother-in-law Dave was visiting some years ago, just after he and my sister got married and he came out on the patio and said, "you have a regular botanical garden out here." Then he paused and looked around and said, "don't you get tired of all this sunshine?"

So while I was in Wisconsin during the past month, I was able to experience the thunderstorms and the sudden rain that clears after 20 minutes. I saw the dark clouds over Lake Michigan. I saw the lightening streak across the sky as I was driving to my cousin's house out in the prairie where there are fields for miles around and the roads are long and stretch ahead with hardly a car in sight.

And I had my walks after work.

My brother lives close to an area where there are really big houses set back on wide lawns. These houses are built of lannon stone, with shutters, many of them. Some are Tudor style with high peaked roofs. And there are wide boulevards in this neighborhood. So I walked around there and felt like I was in an Americana fairyland.

Here I was at my brother Jim's, relishing his neighborhood and the orderliness of his lifestyle. He's a sport's guy. I learned about fantasy golf. He even put up with my reorganizing his kitchen, with a shrug, as if to say, "OK, that's my sister."  He accepted me into his home. He mowed his lawn after work.

I slipped into the slower pace, the gentler routine. My walks after work were something I looked forward to. I walked up and down the boulevards, admiring all the gardens and the blooming peonies, some flopping over after a rain. I wandered around those neighborhoods for an hour and when I returned back to Jim's I was ready to make some dinner. And then some nights we watched Seinfeld. He had all the funny episodes recorded. It was hilarious.

And we got along. He made a space for me in his home.


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sfstorylady
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Our stories define us, they tell who we are and where we come from. Our stories also help us to preserve the memories of our loved ones. It is important to preserve your stories so that they are not lost.
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