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Goeun Park: Sibling rivalry ­— and sibling — will be missed

 “Goeun, can I have $20?” my brother Jin asks in the careless fashion all the youngest of the family must have trademarked at birth. Despite the deceptive tilt of a question in his voice, it’s not really a request. He really means, “Goeun, I’m going to take $20 from you even if I have to pry it out of your cold, severed hands.” He’s a charmer, that boy.

As I’ve started to gut my room and my life in preparation for college, I’m looking back on what I’ll be leaving behind. On who I’ll be leaving, namely my bratty baby brother.

Jin won’t be reading this anytime soon because he’s a busy young man with a stack of video games to play and British television shows to watch, but when he does come around, he’ll roll his eyes and tell me to “go find a real hobby.”

I know — or I hope — that Jin doesn’t really hate me all the time or even most of the time. He just acts like it with all the shoulder punches and name calling.  It might be a younger brother thing, a teenage boy trying to prove his manliness or whatever thing. More likely, he’s out for blood and revenge.

Confession: I wasn’t exactly the nicest sister growing up. Merciless, brutal, and delightfully chubby in the golden years when I was the bigger sibling, I teased him without fearing consequences. When he hit me, I hit him twice. When he stole a bite of my cookie, I snatched his and swallowed it whole. The golden rule was that any wrong he did to me, I did it to him twice.

Underneath my sweet baby face, I was a manipulating machine. Ten years ago, I could have probably convinced our parents that Jin was the cause behind the broken vase and also global warming. I reigned supreme on my top bunk until puberty toppled me over like I was Humpty Dumpty.

I won’t romanticize Jin here because he can be and often is a pain in the neck. But in the end, he was always kinder to me than I was to him. He was the one who waited by the door when I left home with my teddy bear and book at the brave age of nine. The one who saved the last candy. Even today, he’s the only person who removes the dead dragonflies stuck on my windshield wiper and bluntly tells me how idiotic I look with food stuck in my teeth.

So I tell him he’s my favorite brother and he replies that he’s my only brother, which is true, but he’s missing the point. He’s my favorite brother and my favorite person.

Perhaps it’s preemptive nostalgia but I can’t help but think we won’t be like this for much longer. Sooner or later, we’ll both grow up and won’t try to punch each other in the face as a way to show affection. Frankly, it’s depressing to think about.

Our siblinghood has spanned the majority of my life and all of his. Just because I leave for college in less than two months won’t mean that we would stop being siblings. It just means I’ll have to settle with laughing patronizingly to a webcam. It just means he’ll be the first in a very long list of people I’ll miss here in Detroit Lakes.