Family Dinner

The evening sky, in a kind of benediction, smiles down over the moving body of people on Massachusetts Avenue; folks leaving work, rushing past me as I lean on a sign post outside a restaurant, waiting for my brother to arrive, and reading the news.

People make their way under bands of clouds shaded in pink and lavender against  a cornflower sky, past the row of restaurants on the avenue, dodging others doing the same in the opposite direction, children in hand, dogs and partners in tow, bikes and books carefully maneuvered,  a woman leading her blind partner, a dog tied to a sign post.

My brother arrives, tall and handsome, smiling. The sky is smiling, too.

The restaurant he has chosen is crowded with families, meeting each other or arriving together, like we are.  We sit surrounded by children and couples, sharing pad thai, yellow curry, and a dotted conversation that is broken by topic changes un-introduced by the usual explanations, punctuated and broken by remarks, observations, and stories unrelated to the current of the discussion we are having.  Interjections surface, are acknowledged, and the conversation’s current resumes as if they had never occurred.

We talk the way two people who have known each other their whole lives can, without ever having to pause and ask the other to repeat or explain.   It’s the sort of conversation a stranger would probably think made little sense.

But it is like a news report, delivered in prioritized order, to us.  Some sadness to discuss, a few stories, two accomplishments, questions and information about work and family.  Candid thoughts we can share with each other, but perhaps not very many other people, serve as punctuation.

But especially we just sit together and eat like we used to as kids, and never do anymore.   The hour, the news, the stories, the sunset, are spent.

I worry about him, as I always do after we part, fretting on the train back to Alewife.  It’s a job of big sisters, I think as I am swept along in the crowd toward the turnstiles, to worry about little brothers, even if they are all grown up.

When I emerge alone from the station the sun has set and the dark stream of the night sky has settled over Massachusetts Avenue;  the smiling sunset now gone, leaving me with a memory of it.   Like the table my little brother and I shared as kids, like our evening in Porter Square, a memory, now.  One in a long river of many.

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