May 17th, 2004: My older brother turns 20. Same-sex marriage begins in Massachusetts. I ponder my decision to go to a tiny, no name school in the same state. Around this time was my senior prom and my first kiss.
May 17th, 2008: My older brother turns 24. I graduate from my tiny, no name school. John Kerry speaks at our commencement, but leaves immediately to see after Ted Kennedy. I’m no longer nervous that my long-time boyfriend will propose to me. I am nervous that I may not see my friends again.
May 17th, 2009: My older brother turns 25. I’ve broken up with my long-time boyfriend but still let him sleep over sometimes. I begin negotiating the end of my employment with the Little Publishing Company That Could. The work is great, but there’s no reason to stick around anymore. I think it’s time to try something really different.
May 17th, 2010: My older brother turns 26. I’m in Spain, just outside of Barcelona, working on my CELTA and dreaming of the adventurous life of an international English teacher. Every dumb decision that I make here is outweighed by every breathtaking sight and the approval of my teachers and fellow students.
May 17th, 2011: My older brother turns 27. I have come to resent all the other teachers at this buxiban, even the one who never did anything that bothered me. There are three more months left in Taiwan and I know that I will spend them alone. My anxiety has gotten unbearable— its swallowed the depression, even. I wander aimlessly through the streets, physical and imagined.
May 17th, 2012: My older brother turns 28. I live in Natick now. I tried going back to school but it didn’t work. Now I work at a CVS photo counter. The job search isn’t going well. The beginning of May marked the end of two strange, difficult months. I think I’m starting to come up from rock bottom. I find my college friends again. Others find me. It’s helping.
May 17th, 2013: My older brother turns 29. I text him happy birthday from my basement office before starting a short work day. I go from work to the Riverside T stop and ride the Green Line into Kenmore. Josh Ritter and the Felice Brothers are playing the House of Blues. I am enjoying every minute. Then Josh mentions the significance of May 17th in Massachusetts. And I start thinking too much.