A Mess of Cords

I was fourteen when my brother left home. He left a mother whose world was shattered, and a little brother with no direction to find his own way. He also left a mess of cords behind our entertainment center.

I had enough knowledge to hook up a PlayStation, but the first time I needed to fix the stereo’s connection to our TV I stepped into a chaotic no-man’s land. We had a five-part stereo hooked up to six speakers, a TV, and about four game consoles, plus a VCR and DVD player. My brother had been in charge of getting this all hooked up over the years, and he had put it together however he saw fit. When a new piece of complexity got added to the pile, he simply fit it in wherever he could. The result was cords twisted with other cords, splitters at every opportunity, coax cables going into places I didn’t know would even accept coax, and a lost fourteen year old trying is best to make sense of it. Over the next five years, I set it right. Or rather, I set it to my idea of right, replacing his baffling logic with my own. It was slow going. Every month or two, I’d pull the behemoth entertainment center forward, squeeze myself behind it, and fix a few cables. I’d untangle what I could, trying to make logical sense of why any given cord was plugged into any given receiver.

Looking back, it’s not a bad metaphor for life. Most of us just float along, trusting what is working implicitly until the rug is pulled out from under us and we’re forced to re-evaluate. At that point we can keep trusting that what we have will continue to work, or we can decide to find what is best for us and do our damnedest to fix what’s broken.

The rug was pulled out from me last year, in June of 2014, with my brother’s murder. He had put in most of the work raising me, as we really only had one parent around and she worked between two and seven jobs at any given time. His interest in computers is what got me programming, he’s the one who taught me about everything nerdy in this world, and he’s the one who taught me to take care of myself. Even in later years, as we lived half a country apart and drifted, we picked up right where we left off when we saw each other. In those little one week vacations, stolen every year or two, we stepped right back into our old paces. We were both the quiet type, but around each other we were confident, quick-witted, and high-spirited. Those around us often didn’t understand what we were talking about, but that didn’t bother us. Together, we were home.

He left this world one of the most selfless people I have ever known. He gave up his own happiness for others time and again, and his funeral was literally overflowing with people I didn’t even know he’d touched. A dozen or so people stood in the back, or in other rooms that piped the sound in. My family still hasn’t really recovered, and I don’t know that they ever will. I know for certain I haven’t- sleep is a rarity, replaced by anxiety, fear, and regular checks of every lock in my house.

The biggest thing that this has brought about, however, is that re-assessment I hadn’t needed until he was gone. I was left with plenty of regrets. He was my only sibling, and he never got to meet his first niece. There are things I should have told him, advice I should have given and received, and I never did. I know he had his own regrets too. He was finally making strides toward his dreams in life, but he never became what he wanted to be.

Over the months after his funeral, I had a lot of time to think. My lightning bolt hit when I was reading a novel, Brandon Sanderson’s The Well of Ascension. While reading about a character dealing with a devastating death, I remembered my childhood. I remembered all those career days, book reports, and summer days nose-deep in fantasy novels. I was always a voracious reader, and dreamed of writing for myself. I built worlds in my free time, jotted down story ideas in large three ring binders, and sketched characters in the margins of notebooks. As I grew up, I went into Computer Science, and found passion in that field. Still creating, and better yet crafting content to teach new developers how to create. I look back at my childhood though, and find that the passion for writing never left.

That’s why this site exists. I’ve been making efforts for months to write for myself. I have a Google Drive folder filled with short stories, journal entries, and partially finished novels. I’ve had several attempts to blog my thoughts and experiences, but most of them sit unloved in draft format. I decided bigger steps were required to start untangling those cords muddying my life. Writing has helped, but if I ever want to do more with it, I have to force myself. So I offer this frank and open declaration of intent. There’s more to my story, of course- the “full story” draft exists on that drive, is five times as long as this one, and frankly might depress the hell out of anyone who reads it. That’s not what I need now- I need to write, and write, and write. I need to see if anything can ever come of it.

So here is where I spill out all of my musings deep and shallow. A place to dissect all of the geeky things my brother taught me to love, a place to encourage the discussions I love having, and a place to put words in the hopes they lead to more words. Stay here and watch, or carry on- I’ll be here, rain or shine.


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