As soon as I was old enough to pick out my own clothes, I only wore his hand-me-downs. When mom took us to get haircuts, I made him go first so that I could say, “I want mine just like his.” He ran from me throughout our house as I raced after him with arms out wide, chasing him down for hugs and kisses. Unable to catch him, ever, I distinctly remember thinking, as a 3 or 4 year-old, “Why is he running? All I want to do is love him so much.” Although I’m not sure he forgave me for being born until we were both nearing our twenties, my brother Josh was everything to me and everything I wanted to be, for nearly all of my childhood.
Josh was introduced to the ocean in the same way I was: on the shoulders of our giant dad. Those early trips to the Washington coast, Fiji, and Hawaii had their lasting effects on him too, but our personal relationships with the water have followed distinctly different paths. We both joined the swim team as kids, but Josh could only muster so much enthusiasm for swimming fast in a pool. (To this day swimming remains the ONLY sport I can beat him in.) He was always happiest body-surfing and boogie-boarding, crayfish hunting and spear-fishing, cliff jumping and building make-shift “Slip-n-slides” out of tumbling mats, a garden hose, and a flight of stairs next to our house. After a professional snowboarding career in his late teens and early twenties, Josh began to focus his athletic attention on surfing. Most recently, two years ago, he and two friends, Colin Tunstall and Morgan Collett opened their Manhattan-based surf shop and began their own clothing line: Saturdays Surf NYC. Everything about Saturdays has been an overwhelming success. So, in many ways, Josh’s life is far more connected to the ocean than mine is.
Josh makes everything more fun, and he always has. He has also been a risk-taking, adventure-seeking, adrenaline junkie since he was small. An early Beta-max home video shows him, age 5, setting up a ski jump on our back deck after our Seattle neighborhood received an exciting half-inch dusting of snow. This tendency towards innovation in the name of fun is something Josh was clearly born with, but is also something he has exploited and honed in order to provide himself and others with truly unique and wonderful experiences. He naturally homes in on the most wonderful of simple pleasures, and then dreams up creative ways to combine them and share them with the people around him. An amazing cook to boot, Josh usually pairs adventures with some collecting and preparing of seafood: mussels, fish, crabs, crayfish.
Is it any wonder that a little sister would hold this particular brother in great esteem? Josh’s athleticism was a difficult one for a sibling to live up to. In fact, his ultra-adeptness in every sport is likely why I saw myself as “unathletic” for so many years. Compared to Josh, I seemed uncoordinated and slow. Really, I was probably pretty average on those fronts (and relatively strong). The experience of being Josh’s little sister in adulthood is an entirely different story. Indeed, Josh may be my biggest supporter. According to him, I have probably already swum the English Channel… butterfly… In December! Like my dad was, Josh is proud of and excited by the accomplishments of his friends and family, and he brags about us all in delightfully hyperbolic ways. I feel endlessly lucky to be near my brother (we both live in NYC) and on the receiving end of his excitement for adventure, generosity, and love. I keep my fingers crossed that that will never change.