Portrait 3: My brother at 24

Words by Chris Somerville

Pictures by Chris Somerville

Published on August 16, 2013

My younger brother and I spent a long time living together in a house without parents, maybe almost a decade. Maybe this was too long for us to do this. We became adults in the same house. Sometimes we’d be sitting around our living room and he’d say something that was almost the same thought I’d been having, and I’d find it weird. If I ever tried to explain it to people I’d just end up sounding stupid.

I used to worry that my brother was secretly a genius and it made me competitive. He was much more adventurous than me. He never had a problem talking to strangers. He could play music pretty well.

Recently, when my first book came out, I went to a few different cities and did a small amount of interviews. As much as possible I mentioned that if there was any line in the book that people found funny, it was usually something my brother had said.

When our father died my brother was thirteen and I was eighteen. My mother had to find a
job in Brisbane and, since my brother didn’t want to change high-schools, he and I stayed on the Gold Coast. We did this for his entire time at high-school, and then onwards into university.

Whenever he went out to high school parties I got pretty paranoid that he’d end up dying. He got into scrapes; he’d come home drunk, with his pants folded neatly over his arm like a waiter, he’d bring home roadwork signs. One night he brought back all the complimentary magazines from the Laundromat down the hill and left them in a big stack on our living room table.

What’s the point of all of this? We don’t live together anymore, I moved to Victoria and left him back on the Gold Coast. Now, maybe, it seems pretty reasonable, but at the time it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. I don’t know. I think about it a lot.

Chris Somerville’s first book, We Are Not The Same Anymore, was published earlier this year. He can be found at www.chrissomerville.com.