Sunday, March 30, 2008

Things are not what they seem

I think I've told you before, that I'm very different from my brother. In fact, if you met both of us at a party, you'd be shocked to find out we were related. Here are some things that people know about him:

He makes $100,000 a year. He works (or worked) for a small company and was treated very well. Recently his company was bought out.

He's been married 15 years, he and his wife are the ones who always have the family get-togethers. They seem to get along very well and always seem happy with each other.

He lives in a ritzy neighborhood and when he comes to the town where I live with DH, he cannot fathom the lack of choices we have--"You mean you only have five restaurants? That must be so boring!!!" (For the most part right now, it doesn't matter if we have five restaurants or fifty, because we don't go to any!)

Neither he nor his wife cook.

They have two kids. But nurturing seems to come in second when it comes to making sure the dining room table doesn't get damaged. I have always suspected that my brother's wife is the one behind all the fancy stuff, because my brother and I grew up in the same house, where things didn't need to be fancy, if they did the job. But sometimes my brother still shocks me, like one time he had been cutting grass, and his tennis shoes got grass stains on them, and he told me he needed to throw those shoes away and get a new pair (!) And he was serious!!! But he did have the grace to look a little embarrassed when I told him how stupid that was, LOL...

They have no pets. LOL, DH and I share the house with 6 dogs, 10 cats, 2 bunnies, and then outside there's 40 chickens and about 30 ducks. So we aren't lacking for company! Oh--the buns live outside in the summer :-)

Now, here is what I learned this week, both from a conversation with him myself and some of the things he told DH.

His new company is a mortgage processor. It appears they aren't doing well at all. They have frozen wages and discontinued bonus programs. His supervisor and the VP who supervises the supervisor are laid off, effective April 15. My brother has been unable to get an answer from anyone as to what his job duties will be after that (read, the writing is on the wall)...He is worried about paying all his bills when he loses his job. They don't have much savings because they pay $3,000 a month (no, that's not a typo) for the kids to go to day care.

He told DH that he'd like to live up in the woods like we do. DH said "I'm not sure that would suit your lifestyle..." and my brother said that it would suit his just fine but his wife would hate it. I've always suspected that his wife was the really materialistic one of the two, but assumed that I was reading too much into things.

He told DH that he and his wife have no feelings for each other any more. That he feels like he's rooming with his best buddy, but that's about it. There's no affection between them any more. My brother told DH that he is seeing now, now that he has the kids, that material things aren't that important and he never realized that before. He told DH that if he lost his job and he lost his house, well, he'd just start over, because none of it mattered in the long run.

Then he told DH that he has cheated on his wife. And the shocker, he caught his wife cheating on him, and he just let it go, DH said it was like it didn't even matter! Like "yeah, I drove by the guy's house and her car was there, so I knew she was cheating, so do you want another coke?" Weird, huh? I never imagined that she'd cheat. I knew my brother would, LOL...

And then when DH mentioned that I pretty much count every penny these days, my brother told him "yeah, we (my brother and his wife) used to be really good at that, too. But now, we've just been spending left and right and I don't even have any idea of where we're at, and I don't know if I want to know!" (YIKES!)

I've always thought, "Wow. Together, they make about three times as much as we do. They must have it made financially." Very strange to realize that common-sense wise, DH and I are probably doing better than they are...

But they always present themselves so well at the family gatherings, I'm always scared to have anyone out to our house because things are so chaotic, it would just be stressful for anyone to have to come out and have to deal with that....but maybe I'm just not as good at pretending. Come to think of it, I have never been very good at that...

Anyhow, I kind of counted my blessings after I learned all that about my brother. His life looks like a sparkly diamond on it's face, but it's really a fake diamond, and not a very pretty one. My life (with DH and DD) has been tough these last couple of years. But the love is still there and I have dreams and goals....I felt very lucky at that point....because if I was living a life like my brother's, I would probably be the one in the family with a mental illness, you know?