Late last night, after going to bed early and sleeping about four hours, I awoke and found myself unable to return to the Land of Nod. I tried a little reading, and when that didn't work, I settled down in front of Becky's computer to play a little World of Warcraft. After a couple of hours of senseless roaming the imaginary world, I returned to bed and awaited the return of sleep...
...and I found myself missing the gang out in KS. After a time, I wasn't the most social creature. I was either waiting to talk to Becky when she was home, or I was ACTUALLY talking to Becky. I would mostly come out of my cave to interact with Ray and/or Cody briefly, go to see doctors, or give a brief greeting to those dropping by for a visit, and then it was back to my shadowy lair.
I miss Cody's fairly obnoxious, misanthropic sense of humor, which dictated fairly clearly that ALL humans were stupid. I'm actually of a similar opinion, except that I'm not nearly as much of a cynic as he is, despite my age. I still have hope that humans will do right by one another, even though it seems to be taking a long time for them to get it right.
He and I would butt heads every now and again, but then there was fairly good cause for those moments. I have my list of mental illnesses that paint the world some ugly colors now and a again, and my displeasure with those within range was hard to subdue. Meanwhile, Cody was the only one in the house actually earning an income, and this grated on his nerves fiercely. I also think he regretted offering me a home without having to pay rent. I was always offering my aid when my money came in, but he wasn't around for that very often. Still, when there was an absolute NEED within the house, I was there to help. (Can you say "air conditioning?" I think you can! =P )
Then there was Ray, my live-in taxi driver and practical care-giver. There were several lengthy drives in which we'd discuss very important trivia, and so many unconscious puns on his part that it could make one's head spin. Really, he sometimes put no thought behind what he was saying, and one of my favorites remains, during his job hunt, "I hope the job application at Pizza Hut pans out." (Really, Ray? Really?)
Ray was the go-to guy with many people in his life. Being unemployed for so long, the world around him had come to rely on him for one favor or another. His parents would call to ask him to drop by to do some heavy lifting. Wyatt would call from work to ask if Ray could make a food run for him. It seemed somewhat unfair that when Ray's car died its final death, so few leapt to his aid. I'd tried to help get the car up and running when I first arrived in KS, but its health was beyond simple repair work.
I was kind of thrust into the laps of these two guys by Siege, who had first volunteered their home as a place to stay. This life-saving gesture has never been overlooked by me. The main disappointment came when Siege started doing a rapid fade in our lives, but for good reason. Chasing a potential relationship, as I can attest, is always good cause to uproot one's self and relocating to another part of the country.
But Ray and Cody were there for me in ways that my own family was not. Stu should have been the one ferrying me to and from doctors, and he should have been the one coming running when there was a loud, mysterious thump from my room. When my imagination was running away with the worst that could happen over my foot, I would imagine seeing Stu over my hospital bed and, in a morphine induced haze, telling him as tersely as possible that his chance to be a real brother had passed years ago, and that he should go back to TN. And then, as my imagination went further, I would imagine seeing Ray, Cody, Siege, (having borrowed Jess's car, (she's Ray's sister and Wyatt's better half)) drop by the ICU one at a time, bringing their most horrid jokes to the field to make me laugh. Ray was there for almost every misstep I took that would end up rattling the trailer, and it was Cody who sat in the living room with me after my knee surgery was causing me unbearable pain, saying, "Rob, I enjoy watching human suffering as much as anyone, but that doesn't mean you should take care of yourself." (And I got no grief for crying like a baby with that pain, which was much better than someone telling me to "man up.")
It's funny, because the jokes often flew about me being Jewish. "Rob wants to open up his wallet and help out...GET THE CROWBAR!" (Not an actual line used, but certainly on par with the sentiment.) Always concerned about money, I was sure to arrange for things like the flat screen TV we bought the first Christmas I was there. "If I move or you kick me out or whatever, I'm going to want my $100 back." And then there was the couple of hundred dollars sunk into Ray's car, which ended up as little more than a one-ton paperweight in the driveway. Or the A/C that I helped to repair, only to not have need of it once I'd moved out. Cody basically gave me a lifetime warranty on the computer he built for me...but it's hard to wring repairs out of a guy who lives 1,000 miles away, and he wasn't exactly Bruce Wayne when it came to money. (Heck, I was still offering up financial aid, even toward the end of my stay there, when the refrigerator had given up the ghost. My offers were declined, with Cody telling me my move would be costing me enough on its own.) All of these things, I could have asked for some kind of refund. Sure, I could use the money, especially with things being a wee bit tight at the moment. But I won't be making demands of those guys, because, as I said, they were better to me than my own flesh and blood.
Of course, if they'd like to slowly "pay me back" via gifts during birthdays and the holidays, that'd be great. But I wouldn't make such demands out of my adopted brothers.
And right there was the thing that kind of touched me the most. Cody doesn't use the term with just anyone, as far as I know. It takes genuine caring on his part to start calling someone not related by blood "brother." And right at the end, that's what he started doing with me. It meant a great deal to me, since my actual brothers managed to dismiss me as having no value whatsoever. Forget emotional value; they wanted me to have monetary value to them, which is truly sad. But after a year and a half under the same roof, Ray and Cody became my new younger brothers...and far better than what I received via family development.
I miss you guys. I hope you're both well, and I hope you're both remembering to be awesome. =)