Here's the thing about my brother: I love him. I think it might be impossible to know him and not love him. He's nice. And funny. And smart. And interesting. Also, my girlfriends who've met or seen pictures of him tell me he's hot. I don't know anything about that. But I do know that I love him. And that I don't see him often enough.
In fact, before this year I hadn't seen him since 2007. And for much of those two years, he lived only a short 3-hour drive south of me, in Portland. Shameful, no? I pretty much fail as a sibling.
Here's another thing about my brother: he does not fail as a sibling. When he moved away from me, he landed in Austin... just a (relatively) short drive from Dallas where The Man was living at the time. Wasn't that considerate of him? To move someplace I'm already scheduled to visit?
And that is how my best trip of 2009 came to include my best restaurant moment of 2009.
The Man and I only had time and budget to squeeze in an overnight trip to Austin, and it happened to be a night my brother was working. We met up at his place and stood around awkwardly in his unfurnished living room while he changed into his skinny jeans, his way to ensure he'd "get more tips... from the men, probably."
We'd planned to grab some margaritas before his shift, but first he wanted to swing by the site of a soon-to-be restaurant he was helping open. Though it was little more than raw bones when we saw it (nothing but rubble for floors, even), he described its eventual life as a speakeasy-style bar and limited (but delicious) menu restaurant. The only standing feature in the place was the incredibly cool iron bar that the owner (at least, I think she's the owner) welded herself.
And then the excited chatter began, with the owner lady talking about the rest of her construction plans and The Brother talking about the eventual drink selection (quite the barkeep, that one) and The Man shitting bricks all over the rubbled floor at the discovery that he knows the chef, whom he worked with during his Whole Foods days.
(For such a big state, Texas is a small world, The Man tells me. And I have to believe him. The next day, we bumped into an old friend of his, also from his Whole Foods days. An old stripper friend. That was fun. So maybe it's Whole Foods, and not Texas, that's the small world.)
Anyway, I'm supposed to be talking about the restaurant moment, right?
We grabbed a couple rounds of margaritas after the soon-to-be restaurant tour, and then followed The Brother to our hotel. He left us with walking directions to the restaurant where he'd be working that night, and much later - after a fairly epic argument - The Man and I made our way out to meet him there.
The restaurant itself was fine. Fairly low key, if I recall, and quite delicious. We ate a ton of good food, though all I remember specifically are the green chili cheese grits, which were to die for.
But what made it the best restaurant moment was, of course, The Brother's presence.
We ate upstairs in the bar, and he came over and sat with us whenever his customer load allowed. He recommended the best dishes, made our drinks, surprised us with a stealthy dessert order while we weren't watching, and then picked up the tab.
He's 29 now; hardly a kid anymore. But I can't watch him without a little bit of awe, my beloved baby brother. Which is why the best best restaurant moment of 2009 was when I was spotted by one of his friends, who commented on how much we look alike... before I'd been introduced as his sister.
And this is such a stand-out moment, worthy of an entire rambling blog post, why?
Because I am connected to him in some small way, even if only through certain facial features. We are of the same tribe. And I am damned proud that it is so.
If you ever find yourself in the Austin area, you should go to the soon-to-be restaurant that finally came to be: The Eastside Showroom. Say hi to The Brother. He'll be the one shaking your drink.
Also, I don't take photos so much as steal them. But I give credit: I stole this one from Eatr Austin, where you can also find a rave review (and one not so rave response) of the place.
Write your own year in review using the prompts from Gwen Bell.