It was not long ago that we spent our days re-watching Dunston Checks In and Honey, We Shrunk The Kids on the VHS player. It seems like just yesterday that we played “Hotel,” where we pretended to manage a hotel, using the basement cabinets as the rooms. (I guess that was a precursor to your interest in the hospitality industry.) It was not long ago that we sat next to each other in the backseat of the red Honda minivan on the way to Myrtle Beach (oy vey), doing Mad Libs or falling asleep to “John Mellencamp’s Greatest Hits.”
Well, at least it doesn’t seem like long ago.
For years, we did everything together. We took piano lessons together (and we had many interesting teachers, to say the least). We spent many summer days at the pool together, and perhaps most importantly, we had many overlapping years at camp, where we made some of our best friends and had some of our happiest memories. During my first years as a camper, you would “check up” on me to make sure I was having a good time. (I was.)
These experiences were formative in themselves, but sharing them with you was so much more special – and fun.
I have fond memories of our family trips. I always loved the weekends we spent in Chicago. (Remember how we memorized the theme song of the “Citybuzz Chicago” hotel TV channel?) I can’t help but smile thinking about your incident with the ice cream machine in Mexico. (“¡Ay caramba!”) Our trip to London and Paris resulted in many timeless stories, as well (i.e. the mango smoothie debacle in London, the sketchy restaurant bathroom situation in Paris, and when we got stopped by an undercover cop on the Champs-Élysées).
There were a few years when we were in the same school building. When you were a senior in high school and I was a freshman, one of the highlights of my day was seeing you in study hall (room 805, to be exact). Since we were in the same class period, both of our names were on the same attendance list. When our study hall monitor began the production that was her “roll call” process, she followed a very specific routine. She would read my name in a monotone voice: “Darcy Schild.” Once she moved past my name, her voice practically rose three octaves, and she would exclaim, “Ethan!” and glance at you with a smile. We always knew it was coming, so we would look at each other and try not to laugh.
I did not know how I would handle feeling like the “only child” as you left for Michigan State. I vividly remember moving you into your very sweaty freshman dorm, and I remember the moment when Mom, Dad and I officially said “goodbye” to you. I felt fine until later that evening when I set the table for dinner. I felt a pang of sadness as I realized I only had to set three places, not four. Other routine occurrences – such as going into your room to get the laundry basket from your closet – were always less fun because you weren’t there. Mom and Dad stopped buying things that only you ate, like ranch dressing, peanut butter crackers, orange juice, Hershey bars and copious amounts of bananas (until you came home for breaks). I learned to cherish the times I got to visit East Lansing (i.e. when Mom, Dad and I sat at the Spartan football game in the pouring rain) and when the four of us were all under the same roof.
I can’t believe it has been four years. Between studying abroad in Japan, interning in Chicago, becoming a student leader at MSU Hillel, working hard in school – and still making time for your karaoke sessions – you have certainly made the most of your time as a Spartan. You have always set the bar high for me, and I am lucky to have you as a role model.
As the older sibling, you have always been the guinea pig – the first to go to summer camp, the first to learn how to drive, the first to go to college. I value the advice you have given me over the years, ranging from warnings about potential high school swim workouts to tips about academics, college life and even cooking. (Well, maybe not so much on the cooking one, considering you sent me a picture of a burnt omelette with the caption, “I made an omelette today!”)
In a time where it seems like everything and everyone is changing, it’s nice to know that we will always be there for each other. Our phone conversations still include some sort of Arthur or Spongebob reference, and you still do the best Forrest Gump impression of anyone I know. I will miss spending time with you over breaks and holidays, playing Wii Bowling, emptying the dishwasher together (it’s so much more fun with someone else) and all the other “little things” that mean so much to me – especially now.
On another note, thank you for understanding my decision to study abroad this summer. It was not an easy choice to make because it meant I would miss your graduation ceremony, but you encouraged me to go on the trip because it was the best opportunity for me. I know Spain is far away from Spartan Stadium, but I will be thinking of you on your big day (and I will wear green and white in your honor)!
I can only imagine the anticipation and anxiety that comes with the end of your college career, but just like the Drake and Josh theme song says, “I never thought that it’d be so simple, but I found a way” – I know you will find a way to make it work, too.
I am proud of the person you have become, and I am even more proud to call you my brother.
PS – Soon, you will be able to say: “I went to college!”