An Open Letter To My Brother Upon His Graduation From High School

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Hey Kelly. I’ve never been very good at being a big brother. And I’ve never been really good at gifts. But one thing I am really good at is sentimentality wrapped in dick jokes. So this is my graduation present to you.

The night you were born I was sitting at home, alone, being a horrible reprobate. Thankful to have few moments to myself I was doing what most teen delinquents would be doing: stealing drinks from our parents liquor cabinet and chain smoking in the back yard. You were born on a school night by the way. I don’t think I need to tell you that I’m not a role model. I was an only child for fifteen years before you came along you spotlight stealing little shit, but you took the heat off of me for a while so – thanks for that.

But today you enter into a fraternity called “The Real World” and brother, while I may have not been the best role model, this is an area that I can give you some real advice on.

You’re going to make mistakes. Make sure you can recover from them.

One time, I snuck out of the house, took my girlfriend with me and went to a party a few towns away. We got shitfaced and did stupid teenager things that stupid teenagers do. When I came home in the morning – supremely confident that I had totally gotten away it – I found your mom waiting for me…with the cops. I got grounded for a good six months. Was it worth it? Yeah. But I was sixteen and the worst that could happen was that our parents would take away my boombox and CDs. (we didn’t have internet then. Fuck off)


believe or not this, at one time was cool. I think. fuck you, I’m old I don’t have to explain myself to you.

But now the big boy gloves are off. The cops won’t take you home to dad anymore, they’ll take you to jail. You need to know this because in the next few years you are going to do a metric fuck-ton of really stupid shit. And that’s okay. Honestly? It’s expected. As a matter of fact I’ll probably not only encourage you on some of it but draw you diagrams on how to do it. That being said; make sure that any mistake you make is one that you can recover from. Get too drunk and say a bunch of stupid shit to all the wrong people? That will blow over eventually. Poop on the hood of an ex-girlfriend’s car? That’s pushing it. Get busted for dealing drugs? I have a friend who’s not a doctor today because med-school doesn’t take grad students with a felony conviction. It’s okay to make mistakes, just make sure that they won’t ever come with jail time.

Don’t forget your past but don’t be defined by it.

Al Bundy. Never forget Al Bundy. Al Bundy made four touchdowns in a single game at Polk High. It was his crowning achievement. And it haunted him for the rest of his life because he never achieved anything greater – in his mind. We all know that High School was a fun, weird, boner-filled time of adventure and self definition. An almost consequence free time where you made friends, enemies, lovers and compatriots. It was a four year socio-emotional experiment and today; you’ve passed. Good for you. Get over it. It’s time to move on.

Don’t be like Al Bundy. Don’t let the last four years of your life define you. Take the things that you’ve learned – the heartache, the triumph, those fleeting moments where you might have seen a real girls boobs (which no matter what you say I doubt the validity of) and let those become the foundation of your future. They will be your touchstones as you awkward your way into adulthood but they shouldn’t be the things that you strive for anymore.

Find your weirdness and your passions and embrace them.

High School breeds a certain amount of conformity and disgust for the unabashed amongst you. Everyone wants to find a place where they fit in but even among the outcasts there is a certain need to find an equilibrium. We’ve all been through it and sometimes we push back certain parts of who we are in order to make sure that we don’t stray too far from the social norms. This is called adolescence and in hindsight, everyone thinks it’s bullshit (this is why us ‘adults’ are so god damned bad at giving advice on being a teenager). We don’t remember that the pervasive need to belong is so encompassing that it becomes not just a want or desire, it becomes your Fight Club. It becomes the reason you cut your hair, change your clothes and listen to the music you do.

be like Tim

Patton Oswalt wrote an article both lamenting and extolling the virtues of the fact that in this day and age anyone can become an expert about any subject over the matter of a few weeks. Do that! Find what you love and immerse yourself in it as deeply as possible – no matter how weird, nerdy, obscure or scholarly it is. Not only is college the age where the world expects you to wander off down the beaten path of your secret interests it is the time and place where you’ll find kindred spirits. Own those things. Make them a deeply ingrained part of you and when people give you any shit about those things that you are otaku about – you should give zero-to-the-twelfth-power of fucks about it.

The internet is forever.

When I was a teenager we had one phone in the house, it was in the kitchen, and it had a cord so you couldn’t escape the earshot of our parents. The Internet wasn’t something I had to worry about at your age. If I got unforgivably shitfaced and puked on someone’s dog it didn’t go any further than me, those kids at the party I crashed and their unfortunate smelling animal. When I graduated high school there was no pervasive tool for over exposing my follies and indelibly archiving my idiocy – (these tools came around when I was much older and capable of making bigger mistakes). But now you’ve got sexting, and snapchat and other, hipper things that I haven’t heard of. It’s a lot easier now to make rash decisions and carve in stone moments of stupidity, extreme emotions and drunken lunacy.

like this picture of you being Dr. Zoidberg. It’s on the internet FOREVER!

You have the entire worlds knowledge and attention encapsulated in a super computer that you carry in your pocket. You are capable of alerting the entire world, and the future, of the dumb things you are doing. Don’t be an idiot with it. Nothing goes on the internet that you would not be comfortable sharing in front of a future boss, a future panel of potential voters or a jury of your peers. I’ve been investigated by the CIA, FBI and The Department of Homeland Security for telling dirty jokes on the internet. This is something I’m intimately familiar with.

Don’t neglect your responsibilities but don’t pass up an adventure.

I want you to consider that college is your first job out of high school and if you get fired from that job I will personally kick your ass! You need to know what is expected of you in college; from your classmates, from your teachers, from your family – but more importantly from yourself. You are too bright, too gifted, and to cunning to be a fuck-up. Face your responsibilities head on. Meet them with the same grit and determination that you have shown every day of your life and exceed every expectation that is put in front of you; because I know that you can.That being said; I want you to know that there are times where it is perfectly acceptable to throw your hands in the air and say, “Fuck it! We’re driving to Vegas! TONIGHT!”

Some day, in the future, you’ll have a job, and a wife, and kids, and a mortgage and it is going to be almost impossible to be an impetuous youngster brimming with a need to explore and stretch your wings. Do that now. Take roadtrips. Go on adventures. Go to a place that you’ve never been before and do something that you’ve never done before. This little blue marble maybe nothing more than a speck of dust in the cosmos but it is full of amazing art and culture and food and women and possibilities. Go find those things. Embrace your wanderlust. Only by exposing yourself to the world will you be able to appreciate it. There’s so much out there; go find it. Just make sure you’ve got your mid-terms covered first.

Never forget that you are never alone; especially when it feels like it the most.

I like to, when writing these comedy articles, make them universal. Everything up to this point could apply to any high school senior who is about to be shit out into the real world but this part, this last part, is for you. Anyone who came just for the dick jokes you can skip this part unless you like squishy feelings and embarrassing pictures.

Just.

For.

You.

“Just tell him for me, that I think his Mother would be very proud of him, and I know she’s smiling down on him with a glow that would challenge the sun. And, I am proud of him as well, and love him very much.” – Uncle Mickey

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“Kelly,

You have encountered many problems in your young life. While none of them were fun, they were a learning experience. You have gone from a smart mouth little boy, to an intelligent young man.

Through all of your trials, some would have crumbled. You’ve had the ability to learn, adapt, understand and grow. That shows not only strength, but wisdom.

Trust in your instincts and trust in your dreams! Always go for what you want! Never turn down a challenge just because it’s difficult, or you may fail. Sometimes life’s failures are our biggest learning opportunities.

You have the tenacity and intelligence to become whatever it is you want to be and will easily be able to stand on your own.

Always remember, If you ever have questions, need guidance, or just a shoulder to lean on, you have a lot of people who truly care for you! You can turn to us for help at anytime.

I wish you the best of luck in whatever you choose to do! I’ll always be there for you if you need me.

Love Jaye!”

Jaye was a member of the Air Force unit that your Mother and I belonged to and a good friend to your mom and I.

nice hat champ

________________________________________________________________________________________

“Dear Kelly,

The week after you and Sean came to live with your brother, Dustin, Lorna and I came over to help get you set up and situated in the new digs. Travis and Dustin went out to see a movie and as the four of us were sitting in the driveway when Sean asked me “What are you even doing here?” I remember saying that I would tell you later and waited until Lorna went inside to go to bed. After she did, I answered “Your brother Travis rarely asks for help, so when he did, I knew he needed it, so I showed up.” You both got a little quiet after that.

I later asked my dad if he could talk to you guys. I figured with all the change it would be better to have someone who you guys could talk to who wasn’t in the situation.

Little did I know, after you moved back home, that you would take it upon yourself to contact my dad and, essentially, ask for help.

Here’s what I know: you are neither of your brothers, nor are you your father. You get to be your own person, in control of your choices and the situations you find yourself in. But here’s the thing: you genuinely take the time to take in the information that is presented to you how and wherever it comes. You also know how to utilize your resources to help support that situation. At your age you’ve had more life thrown at you than I have (and right now I’m twice your age) and you’ve overcome obstacles that have been unfair. Use those experiences and continue to make choices. Do not let choices make you.

And if you need to reach out and talk to someone, you know I’m on the list of people you can call.

So proud of you!

Christy

PS: you still owe me a boat.”

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“Kelly,

CONTINUE TO “SHIFT IN THE MOMENT …

This ability was never more evident than on science night when you were demonstrating the modeling machine.

There was a glitch in the software. Rather than panic, you calmly described what the machine’s software was supposed to do; and shifted your presentation to describing the steps you would take to problem-solve the glitch.

This decision to make this adjustment in your presentation was made “in the moment”; and, for me, resulted in a more effective presentation than the one originally planned.

Kelly, this ability to shift in the moment when things get off-track is a strength that will serve you well. Trust it as you go forward on whatever path life take you.

Best wishes for continuing success.

Christy’s Dad,

Vader”

– We call him vader because he’s a seven foot tall black man whose voice makes James Earl Jones sound like a soprano.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

“Life is a series of good and bad moments. The best can make us feel like we’re on top of the world and the worst can bring us to our knees, but a few simple, universal, and human truths will keep you going.

Try to always pick the hard right over the easy wrong. Life isn’t always black and white, but it’s easy to tell right from wrong. Right is the one that lets you sleep at night.

Be slow to anger and fast to forgive. Holding on to hurts and anger eats away at your soul and leaves you empty and bitter. Having a gracious nature, holding out a hand to someone in need, understanding that someone out there may desperately wish for some kindness will always lead you to a good path in life.

And lastly, this is the most important one, never, EVER trust a fart. Especially if you are wearing white.

Good luck to you, young man, and know that your friends and family love you dearly.

Regards,

Wendy Stewart”

– She’s a friend of mine and dad’s – she’s watched both of us go through it (if you will).

___________________________________________________________________________________________

“Like every child must, Kelly had to find himself. Those of us that were there to witness his growth were privileged to see the man he was becoming. While we knew the child, we were amazed by his potential. I am eager to see what the man can accomplish.

Love, Heidi”

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Kelly –

Wow all the shared memories watching you grow up…… Now you’re a grad.

Thanksgiving in Hawaii, watching you and Kayla “dig for China”, The Easter Egg Hunts and you finding the “money egg” … how upset the big kids were LOL

You on 4th of July’s in bounce houses with enough GLO rings on to compete with the fireworks. Cannon balls….

So many Christmas’ in Tahoe.

Memories of the boy you were… and the young adult you have become….your mom would be so proud…. I know I am. – Mary Lusi

____________________________________________________________________________________________

gang signs? really? did you forget where you are?

“Kelly,

At your graduation, as you go off to begin your “adult” life, this is the point where “old, grown-up folks” like me are supposed to impart words of wisdom and advice and experience to you. Instead I’d like to share with you some things I learned from you and your family, so that you always remember how wonderful (and surprisingly insightful) your family really is, and how great you are.

A few years back, when I was going through a rough time of my own, your family, who while going through incredible hardship of your own, was beyond kind and opened up their/your home and hearts to me and made me a part of the family. These are some of the things I learned that have helped me since.

From your Dad, Jack, I learned that while being strong and the pillar for all others to lean on, it’s ok to ask for a hug and a shoulder to cry on when you need it, and that that doesn’t make you weak, only stronger.

From your Mom, Doris, my amazing and inspirational friend, I learned that when someone else believes in you (her) it was easier to believe in yourself, and thus succeed in whatever could be imagined.

From your brother Travis, I learned that there is “fun” and there is “cops come fun”, and don’t ever cross the line. (I believe he speaks from firsthand experience, and so from that I also learned that you don’t always have to make the mistake personally to learn from it).

From your brother Sean, I learned that no matter how bad you think your day is going, someone else is always having a worse one, to see the other side and understand that you’ll get through it and things will get better.

And from you, Kelly, I learned it’s good to be sensitive and kind, to be quick to laugh, and to ask lots questions. I learned to enjoy a good book on a day when it might be a really nice day to go outside and “play” is not a waste of time. And that often, when the book doesn’t follow the movie- the movie still sucks.

Best of luck, and always remember I am here for you ever need, just as you and your family were there for me.

Congratulations!

P.S. Are you going to go work for Myth Busters now?

Love Kimmer”

Kim was the 1st Sergeant in our Air Force unit and a long time friend of your Moms.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

“Kelly,

It’s funny the things people will write down versus what they will say out loud. When you’re around us, it’s all brotherly sarcasm and poop jokes, but today I’d like to tell you something different.

I was lucky enough to be a kinda-sorta-sister-mom-thing to you and Sean for about a year, and my only hope is that you know how glad I am that I had the opportunity to be that. Not glad for the reason, but happy to have had the experience. That year was difficult. And awkward. And uncertain. And oh-so-much simpler in hindsight than it felt at the time. But a lot of really awesome life experiences are all of those things. One thing that I learned from you and your brother(s) that year was to roll with the punches a bit more. That everything will be much clearer on the other side, and you have to enjoy the present for what it is instead of worrying so much about the outcome. You and Sean are two of the most resilient people I’ve ever encountered. I’ve seen you two recover from every would-be setback that’s been placed in front of you as if life was all designed just for you. My mother always used to tell me the quote: “Things work out the best for people who make the best of the way things work out.” It’s something I’ve worked my whole life to embody, and I see it so clearly in you two already. You’re both amazing, really.

I guess what I’m saying is that, instead of filling a letter full of life advice for you as you embark on adulthood, I’d like to just thank you for all that you’ve taught me. You are wise beyond your years, creative, independent, unique, intelligent, and wonderful. But you do it all simply, as though it’s no big deal. (Just like your mother did, and you could feel it within seconds of meeting her.) And watching you grow and settle into this amazing young man has been one of the highlights of my life.

I hope that you continue just the way you have started, and that you discover many new and interesting things along the way. I hope that you continue to learn. I hope that you actively seek success. I hope that you dream. Mostly, I hope that you never forget how many people care for you, and how big of a family you really have. Weird and mixed up as we are, we’re all rooting for you, and we all love you.

Love, Hillary

PS – If Christy gets a boat, I get one too.”

here’s us dressed as dalmatians for Halloween because my wife is a horrible person

All of those amazing things are written by people who know you, know of you, care for you, love you and want you to be the best person you can be. This is the affect that you have on people. You are an amazing young man and you will never, ever, be alone in this world.

I know that in a few weeks you’ll be eighteen. You’ll have graduated high school and you’ll be an “adult” – but I’m not ready for that. I remember when you were born. I remember changing your diapers. I remember rocking you to sleep at night. I remember your first steps. Your first words. I remember when your mom used to bring you into my room when you were still a little boy, barely able to talk; she would plop you down on my prone, snoring, drooling teenage carcass and you would say, “Off your butt and on your feet Bubba!” She taught you that and I could never argue with it. I know that you are well on your way to becoming a man, and a wonderful man at that. But to me, even after all that we’ve been through, I can’t help but look at you and see this.

in this picture, you’re not much older than my son is now and i’m only three years older than you are now

Congratulations dude. On everything that you’ve accomplished. I love you.

Travis


boy you’ve got to see what tomorrow brings!

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