I feel most alive when I am driving at night with my brother and he is playing good music and my window is wound down and my hair is blowing in the wind and I look at the lights of the city and I smell the night air and I am full and everything is possible.
My brother is two years older than me. He is tall and blonde with wide shoulders and light green eyes. Our family jokes that we live amongst a Viking warrior. When I was younger and more impressionable I looked at his life like it weighed more than mine. This is something I am trying not to do.
In school my brother was very good at sport and could throw a javelin further than anyone else. His long strong legs meant he always won the field events and his best was high jump. When it came to high jump there wasn’t much point in competing if you were competing against my brother. In pictures he looks like he is flying, which he was.
In the car we listen to everything from hip-pop to rock to alternative music. Our favourite song is one called Red Eyes by the War on Drugs. It’s the one we play when the other is around. Another song we like is by an Australian band. It starts with an electric guitar playing a riff that sounds like summer. I tell my brother this: that the riff sounds like summer. He nods and says it’s “so good”.
Sometimes if he drives me to the shops, I will get back into the car and he will say “all good?” or “got everything?” And it’s only when I answer that he begins to drive away.
My brother likes drinking and dancing and talking to pretty girls. He likes seafood and Bob Marley and funny people that act young and foolish. He loves old expensive things like rare books and vintage wine.
Here is my truth when it comes to my brother: I will spend the rest of my life trying to impress him.
We rarely fight. When we do it’s about popular culture or a person he doesn’t like on the TV. It never lasts – blows away in the wind, and resettles somewhere far away. Our mother had my siblings and I close together so we could grow up friends. Like many of her plans it was a success.
Most times my brother’s driving scares me. There’s too much potential for danger. He speeds and cuts corners, looks at his iPod or glances at the girls in their cars. But at night I embrace the speed. It makes me feel reckless and light. It makes me forget I live in the suburbs.
One night after visiting our Dad in hospital, I notice that the moon has gone behind a cloud. We have been listening to the Stone Roses. (Another thing my brother likes is 90s English rock music, the kind that plays during soccer matches in films or during scenes where youths go out on the town and cause “trouble”. I don’t cause trouble but sometimes he does.) The clouds are covering the moon in what look like big puffy hands. But then the moon moves and the hands open and I am both in the car in Brisbane cruising down a highway but I’m also not. That’s what I like about these nights. They feel big.
My brother worries about money and getting older and not being together as a family. He doesn’t like wearing the same clothes over and over and doesn’t like macadamia nuts or how popular popular music is. He taught me how to drive and told me that the Nile is the only river in the world that flows south to north. He chases knowledge like it’s an elusive beautiful thing, a bird he can’t catch or a breeze he can’t feel. Once I told him how lucky he was that he didn’t worry about anything. He said he worried quite a bit.
I feel most alive when I am driving at night with my brother and everything seems possible. One day my brother is going to be a primary school teacher and I will be proud but I will also be someone with a name and a purpose too. And beyond that, I can see us, older and a little more jaded but a little more hopeful too. We will be listening to music at night in a car that is going too fast. I see us and it feels right, like we were born simply to exist in those moments.
Dancey Gordon studies writing and literature at the University of Queensland. Writing makes her very happy.