As I struggled to avoid eye contact with the mountains, whose beauty had taken my friend; my brother away, I knew this stretch down a Spanish-named road contained the most sincere emotion I had felt on a very surreal vacation. My tears were selfish leaving my brother, Max, at the College of Santa Fe. The city was perfect for his Jack Kerouac-spirit and he was dangerously calm and ready for the new experiences coming his way.
For the past 18 years my parents had been educating and loving Max so that he could leave them. Starring out the window of our red mini van, the adobe McDonald’s was pixilated by tears trying to escape my eyes and I refused to blink or exhale for fear that they would be successful. The car ride back to the Best Western Hotel was silent, except for my mom’s dramatic sniffling. The backseat was dimly lit with corporate, neon signs that lined the only corporate road in Santa Fe. By next year my brother would be a local, scoffing at the tourists who remained comfortable in the chain restaurants that ran along this Cerrillos Road. I wanted to remain in the honesty of the moment.
I wanted to think about my life with Max and I wanted to think about my life without Max. Too soon the car ride was over and I had to face an obnoxious concierge and the florescent lights of the hotel lobby. I raced to the door and didn’t look at my parents. I knew the look that my mom would give me. She would smile because Max was exactly where he should be, and because that would make the tears seem ridiculous. She would be crying because she’s selfish, like me, and wants to know him for a while longer.
I continued alone up the stairs to the second floor where I was stopped at the locked door of our assigned room. My younger brother and parents arrived together at the door and I was forced to face my mom’s sad smile. Suddenly I felt alone in my own family. We seem unbalanced and incomplete without him. This feeling won’t go away as time continues. Its priority in my heart will simply be replaced with routine and new concerns.
I have always admired Max, whose fearless and intelligent outlook taught me to always be seeking my own happiness, regardless of anybody else’s opinion. His everyday absence combined with the lessons he taught me will continue to make me more independent and unwilling to be persuaded into somebody I am not.
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