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'Hi, Jane!'
'Hi?'
and I let the male hear the who is this? question in my voice.
'It's your brother, Joe.'

My oldest brother has 10.5 years on me and left home when I was seven. I have never really lived with him, and we do not in any real way know each other. At 33, he lives in the Far East and I live comfortably in Brooklyn and he comes to the States often enough but never enough to really meet him or let him see me as his grown up little sister.

My brother has four children, only 3 of whom I've met. The oldest is 8, and they moved out there when she was a few months old. A lifetime of growing, since then, for all of us; growing up and apart and in all sorts of directions. My brother and I are almost strangers and we know it and it bothers us both, but not enough that I'd feel an urge to share my life with him, and not enough that we'll attempt much more than a phone call or lunch when he's in town.

'So I'm in town for the weekend, I'm at Aaron's place right now and I'll be on Long Island for Shabbat and then I leave on Sunday.'
'Busy, huh?'
'Yeah, so I just wanted to call my little sister and make sure I said hi.'
'Hi'
, I say again, but this time with a smile in my voice.
'Get married soon' he says. 'We need an excuse to bring the kids to N.Y.'

I make a fake laugh choking kind of sound, and when I hang up the phone I am blinking away stupid tears. It's just the way things work.

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