To be surrounded by three brothers is an adventure.
Growing up meant watching every roadside boulder transformed into a climbing wall and finding finished boxes of my cereal in the pantry. But, it also meant having a closet that no one would steal from and getting rare insight into how boys act around boys.
My brothers — one older, two younger — and I became close, and by adolescence, best friends and confidantes. Though we span 11 years and have followed markedly different paths, from finance to acting, we have that undeniable connection that those of you with siblings instantly understand. So a few years ago, in early June, we decided to start a tradition of ‘sibling trips’: no parents or friends, just us.
For our first trip, my two younger brothers and I flew to Boston, where the eldest was living at the time. Together, we drove up to a small town in Deer Isle, Maine, where we stayed in a Scandinavian Airbnb with an artist named Kendra and her two cats. She was looking to sell the property and we wanted in. We told her we’d consult our parents and took the necessary documents, as any naive children would. Of course we weren’t kids anymore; spanning from high school to post-post-grad, we all had our driver’s licenses and could (almost) legally drink, but together, that all went out the window.
We spent late nights talking and joking. We ate the most incredible sticky toffee pudding, one that I’ve never been able to recreate. And we dreamed of this house we would own with red windows on a meadow up in Maine, where we could spend so many nights just like this one.
The next morning, we drove to Acadia National Park, where we biked for hours and ate sandwiches along the water. There were stretches when I found myself biking alone in silence, my three swimmer brothers leaving me in the dust. I knew I’d catch up with them eventually; I only hoped they’d save me some snacks.
I think about that trip often. I’m not sure the four of us have been together, alone, since. That’s because our second sibling trip happened last summer—and things have changed a lot. My brother is married with a daughter of his own. This round, little Lowe, my sister-in-law, and her brother joined us. My youngest brother brought his girlfriend along and I brought my boyfriend, who has since become my fiancé. We met up in New York City and, again, drove north, in a 15-passenger van headed for Shandaken, a small town in the Catskills.
Suddenly, we weren’t four—and I wasn’t sure we would be ever again.
We spent the weekend grilling, playing Settlers of Catan, and daring each other to jump into the freezing-cold creek. We went food shopping 40 minutes away—and left half the groceries in the cart. We ate at a questionable deli. We laughed a lot.
These days, that trip fills my mind, and heart. It hasn’t replaced the other, the one where four disillusioned kids schemed to buy a house and rode bikes until their legs gave out. We’re older now, if not necessarily wiser. I might never understand Settlers of Catan, but I know, surrounded by these people I love, I have a good thing. I’ve gained a few siblings and, since then, a few more. It’s still the adventure it has always been.
And now, sooner than I ever imagined, the next generation has begun. Lowe, now a little over one year old, is surrounded by four uncles and an aunt. She’ll continue to go on our sibling trips and maybe, one day, start her own. I look at her and I think: how lucky.
Photos by Gesi Schilling