Remember high school dances. There was prom, homecoming and the sweetheart dance, just to name a few. And with these dances came traditions. And these traditions brought a mentality. The traditional mentality is that guys always ask the girls.
We girls would stress on this process for several reasons. We stressed because the boys rarely asked at an appropriate time. We stressed if we liked the boy and we stressed if he was just a friend. We stressed because of the responsibility of being with someone.
And although going stag to a dance sometimes came with negative labels, we all considered it because it left behind these stressful emotions.
But for me, these emotions did not compare to those I would feel when my date arrived at my doorstep. Because with this arrival came an introduction to my two brothers.
When I was younger, I would try to hide those I was interested in because of the fact that I thought my brothers would scare him off. That's the way my brothers protected; they me would scare off a good guy.
But now that I am out of the house and I do not have those brotherly figures in my life, I search for someone to weed out the troubled men in my life. Someone like my brothers.
Two people who helped shape me into the woman I am today. And by woman I mean a girl who no longer fears their protective mentality but yearns for it here in San Diego.
Because when a boy comes to pick me up for a date here, there is no one to shake his hand until it is blue. Or to drill him with questions about the cattle industry, their opinion on country music and their knowledge on the Greek culture only to become silent and make him feel awkward.
Yes, I do have great friends who provide analytical opinions about the boys I date, but it is not the same.
There is no one who can replace my brothers' opinions, only people who can temporarily sub in.
And it is not just this protection or this opinion that I miss about my brothers.
It is their presence that I miss the most.
No matter how tough and intimidating they try to be, nothing can hide this presence. Nothing can hide their smiles. Or the smile I get when I am around them.
I never could quite understand why we have the similar laughs, similar mannerisms and similar accents.
This was until I watched home videos of my childhood. Besides the occasional tears, when my brothers would enter my room unwelcomed to throw my dolls around, wreck my Barbie Jeep Wrangler, or eat my chocolate malt balls on Easter day, I was all smiles when I was with them.
My life was a constant adventure when I was with my brothers, whether I was playing cowboys and Indians or trailing cattle with them across the hills of our summer ranch at age seven.
Playing basketball in the backyard under the light of the moon at age 10, well actually all ages, or leading them in a Greek dance at my high school graduation party. You knew we were brother and sister. You knew that we were related not only by blood but also by friendship.
And although we have these home videos to prove that these friendships and adventures did exist, I don't need them. Because I still play the game of cowboys and Indians that my brothers taught me with life. And I thank my two brothers for teaching me that a few cuts and scraps cannot prevent me from living life as an adventure.
Mari Katherine Raftopoulos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org