Life can be a funny old dog. Every now and again I just come across something that mystifies me; I can't explain it away, I can't fully comprehend it. My brother Buddy is one of those things. I'm rubbing my forehead in between sentences trying (as many times before) to make sense of him, to put to bed my survivor's guilt, to find a cosmic reason we are the way we are. When it comes down to it, we're two broken people who have dealt with our brokenness in a thousand different ways, and only a few of them are the same.
Poverty has a way of gnawing at one's self-esteem like our guinea pig Charlotte approaches her daily allotment of green bell pepper. Charlotte is naturally cautious, but she loves her daily salad. You can see the struggle in her little piggy-poo heart as she tries to decide which is greater - her love for bell peppers, or her fear of my hand. It's the same dance twice a day, every day - her pink nose rises in the air catching that first whiff of peppery goodness. She spies my finger and makes laps around the cage consulting with her conscience, mustering the bravery. Then she gradually approaches my hand, giving in to her rodent desires long enough to steal the gift from my hand. Each time I offer her more bell pepper, the dance becomes shorter and shorter so that by the time she receives her fourth piece, she hardly notices my hand at all. My brother reminds me of Charlotte. Over time Buddy's sensibility and self-worth have become obscured by the poverty cycle. He's apathetic, depressed, lacks motivation. Even though he is kind, smart, and skilled (as an electrician's assistant), he can't seem to pull himself out of the rut. He's totally given in to the pepper.