Somewhere today, my baby brother is climbing a tower. And visiting a church. And wandering down a cobblestone street, gazing up at a window filled with beautiful red geraniums or the day’s clean laundry strung out to dry or a flag hung loosely on a wooden pole. In the evening he is sitting in a trattoria eating pasta and drinking the most magnificent glass of wine, a Barolo or Chianti or Montipulciano. After finishing his meal, he watches the sun set on the piazza, while he sips his dark, rich espresso from a little porcelain cup.
I doubt he is thinking about me.
I, on the other hand, cannot think of anything but him. Jealousy is not a pretty emotion.
He left just a little over a week ago. He and his family boarded a plane that would take them to the land of Michelangelo, pecorino and a tower that tilts just a bit to the right. He left on the very same day that I was returning from a somewhat less than exciting visit to the middle.
He could have waited for me to return.
Each morning, when I am crawling out of bed, my middle aged joints aching as I shuffle across the carpeted bedroom floor, he awakens in his lovely Tuscan farmhouse with the cats on the tile roof and opens his guidebook to plan out the day.
While I am brushing my teeth and dressing for work, he is loading up his black fanny pack, donning his best walking shoes and jumping into his little Fiat rental car to go explore a church or a museum or a lovely piazza. He walks by a fountain and tosses in a coin or two.
I have coins I would like to toss.
As I peer into the refrigerator trying to decide between a dry leftover salmon burger or cold pizza, he passes by a window displaying salamis and cheeses and stops in to get a picnic lunch that he will eat on the lawn at the Campo dei Miracoli while he gazes up at the leaning tower.
I like salami and cheese.
And at night, when I am watching reruns of Law and Order, he is traipsing around the Italian countryside with his partner and daughter and Judge Stanley Woods, watching the sunset over the Adriatic.
Have I mentioned how much I dislike my baby brother?
He always was the favorite. Mom and Dad liked him better. They denied it, of course, but we all knew it was true. He was, after all, the baybeeee.
And we’ve never let him forget it.
So maybe he did leave without me. And maybe the coins will have to sit in my pocket for a little bit longer. And maybe I’ll have to buy my salami and cheese at Safeway instead of the local salumeria. And maybe I’m just the tiniest bit jealous.
Just a tiny bit.
OK, a lot. But can you blame me?
The least he could do is bring me a present.