Dear Shaun,

Normally these letters open with an introduction. A bit of hand-holding to assure the reader that things aren’t as creepy as they may seem. Although, this time around it is totally expected for someone to love their brother. It is still a little bit odd to write about it and stick it up on the Internet… But we both know I have never been a stickler for social norms.

This letter is one I have wanted to write for a while, but it couldn’t be forced. I needed to wait for something to condense these wafting ideas into words. While watching ‘20,000 Days on Earth’ I found myself drifting off and imagining these paragraphs. Now with the movie finished, here I am in a darkened room, cross legged on a bean bag and mashing away at my keyboard.

Alright, let’s get started. First I have to fetch you a memory. We are sitting toward the back of the Enmore, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds have dragged the crowd from a rocky start. It is just about to evolve into my favourite gig when the unmistakable warble of a violin introduces Bring it On.

*

You have shaped the way I write more than anyone else. You wouldn’t believe how many times I rewrite the same paragraph over and over. Trying to make it conversational, like the many childhood hours we whittled away giggling and sharing ideas. Sometimes when these paragraphs are proofread, the relaxed tone gets lost. It can be bruising, especially when I am striving for a place in time. A relationship.

Some of those childhood hours left me terrified, especially toward the end of your high school years. When you started to decipher social settings with ease and seamlessly slid into young adulthood. I was in awe - how the hell did you manage that? Shit. I still don’t have it completely figured out. Like when I meet someone for the first time? What was that glance? Crap. What did I say? What was I supposed to say?

Sure we sometimes argued, usually over petty kid stuff. But you never glanced at me like that. You always seem to ‘get’ me, the way you seem to get everyone. They relate and laugh.

I got pretty upset when we said our goodbyes and you left on your North American travels. I even said, ‘I don’t think Shaun will be back anytime soon’. Reflecting, I think at some level I realised that our childhood had came to an end. But it snuck up til it blindsided me right there and then. It wasn’t even something that you really think about when you are striving to be an adult. It certainly isn’t something spoken about. But after years of having you there, we drifted to opposite sides of the world and rarely speak.

It wasn’t cataclysmic or anything like that. Just the tyranny of distance and time slowly eating away at our shared memories. Initially we got stories of your travels. Little excerpts from your journey, hilarious anecdotes of encounters with other cultures. Eventually, they became less frequent. These days I find myself in darkened rooms trying to emulate the way you told those stories. Reliving and pretending, enjoying cathartic memories of when you were nearby.

Recently Samantha and I were talking about time travel and where we would want to go in the past. I think if I had a time machine I would take Samantha back to the evening before that departure. To show her what we were all like back in the day. I think I would try and whisper a bit of advice to myself, a little heads up on what was to come.

Hrmm. It sounds like I am at the end of Nocturama. I guess that makes for more than enough nostalgia for one evening.

Love,

Clinton Freeman.

A photo of clinton and shaun freeman from the early 80's. Riding a merry-go-round.