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One Life But We’re Not The Same

One life, but we're not the same a story of brotherly love and U2

There’s been a one hour driving distance bubble encircling my immediately family for our entire lives.

At the end of July, my oldest brother (the one recoiling with iPhone in hand in the photo above) will move 10 hours south.

I could choose to be sad he’s fleeing the area. That’s one possible reaction.

Instead, I’m grateful for the 42+ years I’ve had him right there. Many families — many brothers — aren’t so lucky. My only regret, as the curtain closes on this era of proximity, is that we didn’t take better advantage of the short distance between us.

A funny thing has been happening on the way toward my oldest brother’s foreshadowed move to South Carolina. Now that he’ll be far from us – middle brother, mom and dad, and me – we’ve had more conversations about getting together and invitations to come visit than ever before. There seems to be something about great distances that makes people who care about each other long to narrow the gap.

Maybe one of us should have split sooner, maybe then we’d have placed a higher value on the time we were fortunate enough to have together.

I’ll eventually take him up on one of those future invites and find myself in SC to spend time with him in his new home, but I felt it necessary to have one final brotherly send off in the area that is still home, if only for a few more weeks. For this farewell hang we planned a few hours together in the city of brotherly love, appropriately enough.

Sports have bonded us over the decades but a regular season baseball game didn’t seem significant enough — 1 of 162, yawn. Instead, months ago we circled on the calendar a famous rock band’s midweek date at the hockey arena in South Philly.

One life with each other.

With or without you.

I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.

One life, you’ve got to do what you should.

(in the name of love).

One life, but we’re not the same.

One of my oldest memories of my middle brother is of him in his sleeveless U2 shirt, tattered and faded over so many years, and of our mom bemoaning his wearing of it so often. The giant font and the wide openings on the sides revealing his gut — it was kinda hideous — but it was his favorite band and his favorite shirt, and before I was old enough to have either I found that pretty cool.

One life, but we're not the same a story of brotherly love and U2

So, earlier this month I put a fair few miles on a cherry red Kia Sportage, acting as designated driver to pick up, and later drop off, each brother at their South Jersey doorsteps, with a rush hour jaunt to the Wells Fargo Center sandwiched in between.

The many hours spent in the cozy cockpit of the Sportage was well worth it to have this one last soiree together; three brothers, one Irish quartet, and 16,000 strangers singing in harmony.

One life, but we're not the same a story of brotherly love and U2

I handed over $25 without the flinch that that parking cost would normally elicit from me, and we pulled into a sweet spot steps from the arena a couple hours early, with the huge trunk of the Sportage full of food and fun.

Adult beverages made at home and carried in Thermoses for them, a couple of craft root beers in attractive brown bottles for me, a trio of hummus flavors, a few fine cheeses, tortilla chips and crunchy naked pita, soft pretzels, and red seedless grapes proved an impressive spread attracting lustful attention from fella tailgaters. The texts and phone calls to coordinate the tailgating food I’d buy at the grocery store, those extra interactions with my brothers, was oddly fun too.

One life, but we're not the same a story of brotherly love and U2

As the patented early summer evening humidity in Philly miraculously stayed away, and a cool breeze blew past in its place, my brothers and I sat and talked about the Sixers miraculous season and the trust needed for their continuing process, we ‘ugh-ed’ about the Phillies crap bullpen, and they each tried to count all the times they’d seen U2 in the past, while I suddenly came to realize that the bulk of U2 songs I knew and enjoyed were on The Joshua Tree album, which wasn’t being played on this current tour. D’oh.

One life, but we're not the same a story of brotherly love and U2

We cleverly set up the middle brother’s new Eagles (Super Bowl Champs) cornhole set in the parking spot alongside our Kia Sportage, giving us extra space to fill with tailgating fun and with U2 songs old and new that blared from muscular Harman/Kardon speakers.

One life, but we're not the same a story of brotherly love and U2

With my bean bags alternating between sailing long and falling short, I got absolutely destroyed playing cornhole. I then proceeded to eat too much hummus and cheese during their game, a spectacular match for the ages with my oldest brother erasing a 19-2 deficient to win 22-20 in dramatic fashion. I fully expect ESPN Classic to be airing that game of cornhole on repeat long after our oldest bro has his family all situated in their new home down south.

One life, but we're not the same a story of brotherly love and U2

The concert was good even if our seats weren’t.

We three were together up high in the rafters with the championship banners, singing along, poking fun at the old dude with the lighter, and punching the air in unison when Bono talked of a unified America standing in solidarity with women, for equality, and against hate.

One life, but we're not the same a story of brotherly love and U2

Two and a half hours later, with just one encore, the house lights came on and we shuffled our way to the door and down about 4 million steps.

Thanks to some people-dodging, we quickly escaped the lot before the throngs of concertgoers reached their cars. With the newest U2 record playing softly, a music bed for this dark commute, I guided the Kia Sportage back over the Walt Whitman bridge, back to Jersey, back to their homes if only for a short while longer.

As midnight approached, we shook hands on wobbly legs, and told each other how much we enjoyed the whole night. Then I made the one hour journey home alone with these words on repeat clattering around my mind:

One love, one blood
One life, you got to do what you should
One life with each other
Sisters, brothers
One life, but we’re not the same
We get to carry each other, carry each other

I reckon I’ll be singing this same U2 chorus soon as I pilot another Kia down to South Carolina to spend time with my brothers, making sure to never again take that time together for granted.

One life, but we're not the same a story of brotherly love and U2

*This story has been told in partnership with Kia. A Sportage was loaned for the purposes of this brotherly tailgating concert experience and I was compensated as a Kia Ambassador. All opinions expressed above are honest and unbiased, as always.

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4 Comments

  1. Excellent!,

  2. I have four older brothers, all far flung in different states. But I have many memories of them and their music. Songs can trigger wonderful memories.

  3. That’s fantastic, Casey. Do you get to see them often nowadays?

  4. It sounds like a wonderful day/evening, despite the bittersweetness of the occasion. Your relationship with your brothers reminds me a lot of mine with my two younger brothers. We live an hour or so apart (depending on NYC traffic) and probably don’t take enough advantage of opportunities to see each other.

joc