Sometimes I forget I have a brother.

I'm the youngest child of four.

My sisters and brother are 12, 10 and 8 years older than me.

My sisters and I talk regularly, see each other often, share life events, spend holidays together and generally act like siblings do.

My brother and I... do not.

There's no animosity really.  There was no big family implosion (or explosion)  that caused a rift between us.

We simply don't - and never have had - anything at all in common.

It's really strange when I stop and think about it.  He is, after all, my brother.  We grew up in the same house with all the same family, both nuclear and extended, but for reasons I've never really been able to pinpoint we had very different experiences growing up.

Maybe it's the eight year age difference.  Maybe it's the fact that he was the only boy.  Maybe it was just the luck of the genetic draw that we turned out so differently.  In any event, we've never been close.  Once proximity kept us in touch, but as adults we just... drifted away from each other.

When people ask me if I have siblings I usually answer, "Yes, I have two sisters.  Oh, and a brother," like he's an afterthought, a postscript to my family.

We still live fairly close to each other, though, and a couple times over the past decade we have run into each other at the mall, the bookstore, wherever.  When it has happened, we have stopped and chatted for a couple minutes, never very long, though.  It's awkward and rushed, like it would be with someone you maybe knew as a kid.  Like someone from your third grade class whose name you can't quite remember.  

Really, he's a stranger to me, tied to me only by shared genes and a common upbringing.

But then one day last week I was driving.  Driving, always driving, it seems.  I met a car I didn't know and got a split-second glimpse of the driver.

I immediately recognized my brother.

It's been years since I saw him last,  but it only took a fraction of a second to recognize him.  To recognize my brother.  In passing, he's as familiar to me as my own face in the mirror.

He's the most familiar stranger I've ever known.

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