Oh Brother.

Ten days ago, I was about to start making dinner when casually, my brother walked into my kitchen. My kitchen in PANAMA. I had absolutely NO idea that he and Juan had been scheming this surprise visit for weeks.  I stood there dumbfounded and beyond-belief excited to see him, and to learn that he’d be here on vacation, for over a week.

Over the course of his visit, Juan, Joaquin and I showed Andy what our life is like here in Panama.  We made a lot of home cooked meals, we took walks and photos all around the hood, we went for dinners and drinks, we laughed, we had heart-to-hearts, and overall, we just CAUGHT UP.   One day, he drove out to the Darien jungle with Juan where they got muddy, used machetes, saw wildlife, explored, examined trees, and brought home cacao, mangos, bananas and avocados.  As you may have read in my last post, Andy climbed almost SEVEN feet up a palm tree and drank fresh coconut water – it was seriously like a scene out of MacGeyver! I took him to the Panama Canal and our local supermarket.  He sat white-knuckled as I wove us through wild traffic in Panama City.  We ate dinner during a beetle storm, caught wild blue crabs, found a porky on the beach (which I didn’t chuck), videoed cutter ants hard at work, drank beers for lunch, took naps, complained about the heat, and chased after Mr. Fox.  He saw the trash and the craziness in the streets, he sat in on one of my drama classes, he met a bunch of our friends, and he attempted Spanish.  He was so eager to see me as I am in Panama, and he supported, challenged, and encouraged me the way he always has.

When I dropped Andy off at the airport yesterday, I couldn’t help but start crying as soon as I pulled away from the curb.  Suddenly, the air felt heavy and empty, and for the next few hours Panama didn’t quite feel as much like home as usual.  Having my brother here, watching him unwind and relax and live what I have been living for three years, was so incredibly special.  Witnessing the bond between Uncle Andy and Joaquin grow so strong, nearly made me want to burst.  When I got home later that night after dropping him off, I could see Joaquin looking past me, waiting for Andy to trail behind. My heart broke but I felt so happy at the same time.

So, you see, living abroad is amazing but it’s not always easy.  It’s an annoyingly fine line and bitterly sweet.  I realized that with my brother here, my life in Casco Viejo was even that much more FULL and when I had to say goodbye to him, a piece of home left with him.  I feel so lucky to have such a cool, quirky, creative, enthusiastic, and true friend & brother as I do in Andy, and even luckier that for a short time, my two worlds came together.

My brother Andy is a photographer in the San Francisco Bay Area – check out his website! www.purkinjeblue.com

Photos: Andy & Joaquin in My Window : Juan & Joaquin on Andy’s Shoulders : Photographing on the Cinta Costera : Dad Uncle Joaco : Andy at Teatro Amador : Pusing the Prince : Joaquin’s Uncle the Photographer : First Night Here : Mi Hermano











  8 comments for “Oh Brother.

  1. May 23, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    Ah, Mols and Andy “I’m so happy I could shit” Berry, I know that feeling all too well.

    But remember, it’s also because you’ve been apart from each other for a while that stuff like Andy ‘going ape’ for a coconut (probably just to remind you who’s boss in your sibling relationship) and all those special moments you described above probably happened because you *don’t* see each other all that often.

    Otherwise, it would just be like every Sunday evening: having an In and Out burger and picking your nose in front of ‘Moms vs Dads’ on Fox. Cherish those moments and make the best of the visits and they’ll be the best memories you have is what I’ve found (I just had a mate and his girlfriend over and we had a great time tapas crawling various random places – that would be a kebab or a £2.50 ‘chicken spesh’ from Chicken Cottage if I was in London I expect).

    • Molly Berry
      May 23, 2013 at 11:17 pm

      Cato! You are so right. Andy and I sat for a long time one of his nights here just talking about his visit to England 12 years ago, which also included our trip to Holland which obviously has many a funny story. Those memories are absolutely irreplaceable and brought us together, just as this last trip has,in a way that can’t be exactly explained. There is no way to create that kind of bonding unless it’s over a shared experience that is different from the norm. Seriously – just think of the trips you and I have taken! Cruise America? Vancouver Island? LA? Panama? My visits to the UK…it’s all based on something so fun & spontaneous & new, and ALWAYS creates memories that we’ll remember (and exaggerate) forever.
      I’m so happy I could shit while you mooned all of highway 101…put’s it all together in one gem of a sentence.

  2. May 23, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Babies have two goals: safety and exploration. But since these goals often conflict, babies have a kind of thermostat that monitors the levels of safety. When comfort level is adequate, baby explores happily. But as soon as safety drops too low, it’s as if a switch is thrown and suddenly baby stops exploring and moves towards mom. If mom is unreachable, baby stops everything and cries.

    If you wanna see the system in action, have someone come over and engage Joachin while you’re in the room. Then leave and go to the kitchen. Bam! The thermostat clicks and to us adults, it seems so cute and infantile…

    But to an extent, maybe we have the system is us as adults too? Maybe your immediate instinct to cry when Andy left was because that attachment figure (whose presence guarantees safety, turns off fear, and thereby enables explorations) suddenly disappeared?

    Well, whatever the case…I’m sure you’re over it by now (you big baby you)!

    • Molly Berry
      May 23, 2013 at 11:11 pm

      I’ve gotta admit Matt, when I first started reading this I thought it was spam…it sounded so scientific until I saw “Joaquin” and I did a double take. When I realized it wasn’t spam and I began to read your comment a second time, I couldn’t help but totally relate to what you said. I really do think that in part my sadness to his departure is exactly what you suggested – an attachment to a figure whose presence guarantees safety, turns off fear, and enables explorations. I mean c’mon, he’s my big brother! Doesn’t it seem like family and all comfortable “habits” play that kind of role in a way? Sort of like breaking the mold or moving away, the unfamiliar is scary for nearly everyone – babies and adults alike.

      And while I wouldn’t necessarily say that I think Joaquin is cute when he cries if I leave the room, but I definitely get a real joy and pride out of Joaquin finding comfort in his mama:-) Even though I am a big baby.

  3. Jason
    May 23, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    WAIT!?…. Andy’s a photographer?


    • Molly Berry
      May 23, 2013 at 4:07 pm

      Who is this Gary character?

  4. Marna
    May 23, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    What a special treat for you all!!! Memories to hold in your heart, for sure :) love, love!

    • Molly Berry
      May 23, 2013 at 4:06 pm

      Thanks Marna – I know you understand the feeling of brotherly love, especially when it’s being passed on to your little boy! xx

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