My brother and I have taken to having movie nights together.

It is important to note that my brother lives in Ohio and I live in NYC and yet this is completely doable with the power of technology and some sibling ingenuity. 

It all started when my brother texted me a few months ago that he was watching Witness. As that is one of my favorite movies, I was like “No way! I love that movie. Maybe I’ll put it on too.” And so my brother paused his movie, I dug my DVD out of my movie binder and asked my brother which part he was watching… he hadn’t gotten too far, so I fast forwarded the movie to the proper spot and our first movie night was born.

While we watched, my brother and I would text each other and make comments about what was on screen or quote our favorite lines of dialogue. Watching Witness was fun because the little Amish kid looks like my brother did when he was little, so we would comment on what his onscreen doppelganger was doing.

In addition to Witness, we’ve watched Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I, and Wet Hot American Summer. (We have to watch movies I already own on DVD b/c I can’t stream Netflix and text at the same time because my computer is too slow to stream movies and I can text and watch Netflix on my phone at the same time. I, however, own hundreds of DVDs so it’s not too hard to find something he can stream or get from the library that I have access to.)

My brother and I would watch movies all the time when we were little and we still do any time we get together nowadays. We like to discuss the plot, the effects, continuity problems, etc… Conversation ranges from silly to downright serious and philosophical. (Our discussion of the depiction of the loss of youth throughout the Harry Potter films and the parallels between the propaganda/politics of the Ministry of Magic and the Third Reich was really quite poignant.)

It’s nice watching these already familiar movies with my brother because it’s more about spending time together when we’re not actually together. We got really close after our older sister went away to college and we’ve tried to keep that up over the past decade or so. It’s not that we didn’t get along when we were younger; it’s just that since there was three of us, one person got picked on – and that person was usually me.

Keeping a solid relationship with my siblings now that we live far apart is tricky, especially because both of my siblings are married. My sister and I definitely don’t talk as much anymore (we went from living together as adults for four years to maybe talking a few times a month on the phone). I put part of the blame on myself, as I don’t like to call as often because I assume that I’m interrupting or that she’s busy with work or at home. My brother and I hardly talked on the phone anyway, but we’ll talk a couple times a month when he’s walking back to his car after class or just to catch up if it’s been awhile. This is why I really like our movie nights – it gives us a chance to hang out for a couple hours and crack jokes/talk, even if we aren’t in the same room or actually talking. 

I don’t know when our next one will be (for all I know, we could be having one tonight…), but I know it’ll be a good time because I’ll be with family… even if I won’t really “be” with family.