As High School came to an end I would have to say I had a lot of friends and a lot of great experiences with those friends, and even some not so great experiences as well (you can't have one without the other). I think that this is the time that I need to mention 2 specific friends that I have had for a long long long long long time. My whole life, in fact (well, one was my whole life and one was his whole life). If you haven't guessed it by now, I am talking about my brothers.
So, I have 2 brothers. My older brother, JR, is a year and a half older than me, and living in a small town like we do we ended up having the same friends and going to the same events and even being in the same classes sometimes in elementary school (they would often combine classes due to a lack of teachers). As I have mentioned, my friends have often had crushes on him which has always irked me - I hate the feeling of being used for that, but of course that is not his fault.
JR is, in a word, charismatic. Everybody likes him. I remember when I first started in High School I would go to a new class with a new teacher and they would read my name off the roll and then they would groan, and tell me they hoped I studied more than he did, but they would also grin and tell me how much they loved him. Teachers would tell me this. It is the same reason that most of my friends had a crush on him. You can't help but like him ... when he wants you to. Of course, he can flip it and reverse it if he wants, and make you hate him with just a look or a word. He has this ability to almost control the feelings of others, if that makes sense. And I love him for it. And I hate him for it. I always hated that people would love him for no reason. I hated that they would love him when really they had every reason NOT to love him. There was one girl in my High School who referred to him as her 'future husband' even though he was almost always mean to her and treated her like crap. But I loved him because I knew (and I still know) how good he can be. How much he can care about other people, especially those he loves, and the (sometimes ridiculous) lengths he will go to to protect those people.
The perfect example is my first day of High School. We had to wait for the bus over at the post office because then on cold days we could go inside and not freeze, but it wasn't out of the way for the bus to get there and it was super close to our house. As we are waiting for it JR says to me "At school, we don't know each other. You don't talk to me. You don't talk about me. We aren't related." I agreed because a) I knew that it was totally ridiculous to think that anyone would not know, and b) I didn't really give a crap and I didn't want to ride on his popularity anyway. But then, at lunch, he comes and grabs me and drags me over to a big group of guys from his grade that are all just milling about and says "This is my sister Mandi, if you hurt her, I will hurt you" in a very threatening way. It was dumb, and probably pointless since I imagine I was not really the object of any of his friend's lusts, but it was also really sweet. When I was in kindergarten there were some grade 2 kids picking on me and even though he was only in grade 1 he stood up for me, because he loved me and didn't want to see me get hurt. And I love that about him. And although he can, and often does, make bad decisions, and he does things I don't like, and gets mad at stupid things because of his temper, and he says things that are mean and he pulls my hair (okay, not so much anymore, but you get the picture) and even though there are times when I just HATE HIM, I always know that I love him.
I hope that all of you reading this now haven't fallen for him because he is currently in a long term relationship with his girlfriend and baby-mama Jessie. They have been together for about 7 or 8 years now and they have a 3 year old boy who is the most adorable little boy on the face of the planet (so far, until I have kids that is lol). She is like a sister to me and I love her a lot as well.
My younger brother, Dallas, is a different story. He is 4 years younger than me, so our interactions in school were kept to a minimum. He was in the same school as me for 2 years in elementary school, and then never again. His friends were never really the same as my friends, but instead they were the younger siblings of my friends. I regret to say that until we moved to the town we stayed in, I don't really have many memories of him. I knew he was there, I guess I just didn't really care (I know, I am so callous). Well, that and he was a baby and I was a self-centered 6 year old, so I think you have to give me a break. A few Christmas' ago I found a picture of me sitting on a tricycle in a pink dress and a crown, with Dallas in front of me, pulling me along with a rope tied to his waist. I asked Mom about it and she said that I was being a princess and he was the horse. She said he liked it. I laughed pretty hard at that one.
But that's the thing, Dallas has always been so sweet to me. While JR always tried to control my decisions, Dallas trusted my judgement and wanted to hear my opinions about things. He never felt like he had to be over-protective (at least not that he ever said to me) and I think that wasn't because he didn't care, but rather because he knew I was smart and would make good decisions about things so that I didn't get hurt (as much as a person can). And I know that if I ever was hurt and needed his help he would be right there for me, (as much as he can since he lives pretty far away) because that is the way he is, but he doesn't assume I need the help. I felt like my relationship with JR was always laid out pretty strictly as he was the 'protector' and I was the 'thing to be protected' and Dallas was more of an actual friend. Someone I could chat with for a long time without worry of judgment and without worrying that what I say is going to upset him into thinking he has to save me.
Once I did realize that my younger brother was more than just a little drooly baby and instead was a fun, interesting person with whom I could interact, and my brain decided to start forming memories of him, they are almost all good memories. I don't remember fighting with him much (although JR claims there was this one time I threw a tape measure at him and hit him square in the back, so I must have been angry, but I don't remember it). I know that he has a bad temper, just like JR, and I know that he has also made some bad choices here and there (because really, who hasn't) but despite those things he is one of the most awesome people I know. He truly cares about others in a way that is so hard to describe but it feels overwhelming. He doesn't have the same natural magnetism of JR, but he is darn close. Honestly, it could be the same and I just didn't notice it as much because of the age difference. I do know that he was always friends with everyone - he could be friends with the popular kids and the underdog and no one could ever peer pressure him into changing his mind about that. He had a tough reputation to live up to when he went to High School. JR was so scrappy and tough and yet lovable and obviously his younger brother was going to be tough too, and then to top it off he was taller and bigger than JR. Add that up and you end up with a lot of people thinking that they need to beat you in a fight. But he held his ground and never punched anyone (although he did punch that one kids truck and put a huge dent in it haha). And to top off the whole package of awesome, he always smelled so good (which might be why I love guys that smell good, because they remind me of the awesomeness of my bro).
Dallas is currently working a good job and living with his girlfriend of a couple years, Suzie, who is amazing. Although I have only really got to meet her and interact with her a couple of times due to me living so far away, I still feel like I have known her forever and I could tell her all my secrets. And I love that. And I love how much I can tell that they love each other.
I want to end this post by saying that I am lucky to have had some great built-in friends for my whole life. I have learned so much from them. Not just from stuff they have told me, but also from the way they interact with me and the way they interact with others. I have also learned from their mistakes. I have learned a lot about how men think and how they act. I learned that I am lovable and worth protecting. I learned that I am a good judge of character and I can make good decisions. I have learned that a short fuse isn't good, and drinking just shortens it. I learned that out of adversity and out of hurt, we can be changed for the better. I learned how to be likable to anyone (at least, I tried to pick up that skill, but I often think with them it is more of a natural talent). I have a different type of relationship with each of them - neither is better than the other, but rather, they are just different. And I am okay with that, I wouldn't have it any other way.