This post isn’t difficult to write – on the contrary, it’s more so difficult to narrow down exactly what to write about and to know when to stop writing, because I have a lot of things I can say when it comes to my brothers. Nick is the youngest of my siblings, and even though we’re four years apart in age, we’ve always been close regardless. He was one of my very first photography subjects – I talked him into posing for many optical illusion photos with my disposable cameras, and then later when I was in college, that turned into asking him to let me photograph him playing the drums and driving his car up and down our driveway for my college photography courses. He’s always been both funny and cool, with a knack for quick wit and ingenuity, and yet still went along with whatever goofy request I threw his way.
In my experience of growing up as the only girl in a family otherwise made up of boys, a lot of our love for each other has always shown itself in more subtle ways than stating it directly. When we were younger it was through sleeping in the same room on Christmas Eve, the boys both bundled up with their respective blankets on the floor of my bedroom so we could excitedly fall asleep and wake up together in the morning to go see what was under the tree. It was through not having cable and thus watching Tommy Boy and Happy Gilmore and Zoolander over and over again, quoting the movies together tirelessly afterward. As we got older, the ways changed but the sentiment remained – it was through calling Nick late at night when I put my car in the ditch on a snowy night while being out past curfew, and him getting out of bed to inspect the damage for me so I could mentally prepare for how much trouble I’d be in when telling our parents the next morning. It’s through singing Sum 41 and Blink 182 together in bars with our friends, and raiding our parents’ pantry and chatting around the kitchen island when we all are home for the holidays. And now, I sorta think maybe it’s also in my brother and Paige asking me to photograph their engagement session — in spending an afternoon together, and once again getting my brother in front of my camera, and him just bringing the girl he’ll be marrying next year in close and not acting at all like it felt silly or embarrassing to him.
A few years ago, a friend of mine shared a writing prompt in an article he wrote that read as follows: “Before I die, I want to ______.” I remember sitting there with this line for a bit, thinking about what I’d want to happen before I go – I jotted down a few things, but this is the one most imperative to this conversation: “Before I die, I want to see my brothers unequivocally happy.” At the time when I would have written this, Nick had just moved back home from California. He became the first of the next generation of our Rumbold family to begin working for the family grain business full time, and soon after, he reconnected with Paige and they began dating. I watched my brother gradually learn the ropes of a new gig and tackle his first harvest season. I observed as he moved out of the place he’d been renting and into the house he’d buy and make into a home, and as he not only further pursued his hobbies, but also as Paige became a part of them, too. The things my brother had loved his entire life – snowmobiles and his pets and working on anything with wheels – became things that he shared with Paige, and that she laughed about and encouraged him to partake in, too. One of the many great things about watching your siblings grow up is seeing them not only turn into the best, truest version of themselves, but also seeing them find the people who have a way of bringing that out in them.
I can’t remember the exact moment I first met Paige as “Nick’s girlfriend”, simply because I had known her since we were young due to growing up in the same small town. What I do remember, though, is knowing right away that this was it – I could hear it in the way Nick talked about Paige, and how they laughed at each other’s jokes, and when I got to know her more and learned that she was also funny and witty, just like my brother. So I’ve watched over the past few years as they’ve built this life together, and I’m so proud of them for the ways in which they have grown and continually encouraged one another and still look at each other like they really can’t believe how lucky they are. They chose to do their engagement session with me right here in the hometown where we all grew up — in the backyard where my brothers and I spent our childhood and our families recently threw the two of them an engagement party, near the pond where Nick and Paige took their dog for a swim and we sometimes still go fishing when my grandparents come over, in the old junior high school we went to and the fields that mean a lot more to them now that they’re older and fell in love amidst them and created a life together here. I think happiness comes to everyone differently and through many different facets of life, but I am certain that watching the way these two bring some of that to each other has also been a small part of mine.