I wrote this on my iPhone notepad during the landing at O'Hare in January:
"Once, at the end of the run of a show that ran for nearly 100 performances in Akron, Ohio, I followed the majority of the cast of dancers to the place they called home, New York City. I sublet a sunny apartment that belonged to a successful musician who was on the road year-round, and the city ate me alive. At the end of seven months, after spending more time waiting to audition than actually auditioning, and pretending to know enough about the stock market to sell Australian equities, I had nothing more to give Manhattan. I was spent.
A week before I was to fly back to Illinois to re-enroll as an English major, my brother came for a visit. We were notorious then. Just a year before, in the wake of a family funeral, I had taken Mike, then just twelve years old, to Mexico for a week of carnage that had spared no traces but a few staged black-and-whites and vague stories about fresh kiwi and sand volleyball. My parents were perplexed. We were silent, delirious.
In New York, Mike felt like the toast of the town. As he saw everything for the first time, I was inspired again. He reminded me why I had come. We emerged one night from the subway in the middle of times square and didn't say anything to one another. We just turned, eyes and mouths open. I took him to the top of the Empire State Building and to Central Park and to the Museum of Modern Art and to the Statue of Liberty. I felt like I had been rescued.
On the morning of the seventh day, I ran out of money. I got on Craigslist and sold my bed. As the two of us took turns riding the mattress downhill from 158th to 162nd, I realized that this is what it means to be someone's brother. I could barely hear him laughing over the sound of the cheap plastic casters screaming on the pavement, as he pushed the mattress down the hill. I looked back and smiled when we reached the end of the block. I got off to push. It was his turn to ride."
January 7, 2009, Chicago