The funny limbs that live underground
They keep you from falling down
Don't you think that you need them now?

from Your Redneck Past by Ben Folds Five

My brother and I were talking during his last visit here in August, talking on the doorstep where he was staying, with cigars and frozen fruit drinks.

"You and I have shallow roots," he said. "When I look at you I see a lot of myself. We can go anywhere. Nothing holds us back." By saying he reminds me of him, he's saying he's proud of me, because he's proud of himself. We both feel this need to legitimize why we are as we turned out.

"People who never move from where they grew up, what happens to them? Their family moves away, their friends die off, not replaced with new people. Their world gets smaller and smaller, until soon they don't even leave the house." He blows a puff of smoke and looks across the street at the cars parked against the curb, cars with out of state plates. "That's not going to happen to us, Laura."

My brother has seen 63 countries and has been married twice, now moving into a third, with two children from the second wife, the one I knew the most and the one who was around for 10 years. I don't know if I want to be like my brother, though. I don't want to be divorced. I kind of like the idea of being somewhere where I belong, a place I can put up with for a long time. I believe that such places still exist, even if I may not find one for several years.

At the time my brother said all this, I agreed with him, I was happy to have found a kindred spirit. But now, after having looked at him, now 40, I can't help but question if I am not as guilty as he is in feigning happiness in light of his choices. This is the kind of thing that happens when you're in a distant family when you've raised yourself and don't keep in touch with your parents, when your parents have no real idea what you're all about and it's too late. This is what can happen when you have no roots.