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Bonded with Iron

My mom had Brian when she was just 17 years old. His father split and I don't think Brian ever met him.

12 years later she married my father.

Then they had me.

I don't remember much about growing up with Brian. I think most of my day-to-day thoughts at the time revolved around blowing spit bubbles, running into walls, and wearing funny hats.

When we moved to Montana in 1996, he stayed in Texas. He had his own thing going, he said. So my family started over in the Big Sky state without him.

Three weeks ago was the first time I've talked with him in over a decade. I don't know him; he doesn't know me. But he's back and living with my parents. He's 32.

For better or worse, I've been through a lot. So has Brian.

I found refuge and battled my demons in the weight room. So had Brian.

I train to clear my mind. To punish myself. To reward myself. To push beyond what I think is comfortable or possible.

But I know too much about strength training now. I perform dynamic warm-ups; internal rotator stretching; balancing pushing and pulling on different planes; single leg work; back-off weeks; controlled rest periods.

Brian's training is raw and indifferent. He trains to fight against himself and accept himself at the same time. To control his former addiction. To overcome.

His form is border-line. His movements are jerky. He uses too much weight. He doesn't want a spot.

But he tears the fucking weight room apart.

It's therapeutic to watch. I can't even imagine what it feels like to him.

“You couldn't let the guards rush you,” he told me once. “You had to get your shit done quick. You didn't mess around. But when I hit the yard, you better believe it was my time. Not theirs.”

We may not have much to talk about just yet. I'm sure it'll come with time.

But for now, when we're in between heavy sets of squats focused on catching our breath, we can make eye contact and crack a half-smile that says “I know how you feel, brother.”