looking through me

Category: 31 Days: Family

O, Cousin(s), where art thou?

I have three first cousins on my dad’s side. Until the age of ten, they lived close enough to see on holidays and birthdays. But then they moved hundreds of miles away. It was crushing to face family gatherings without them.

Two years later my first cousin on my mom’s side was born. The twelve-year age difference hardly mattered. I was smitten.

Within five years my cousin—and her younger sister—moved even farther away than my first set of cousins. Hundreds of miles seemed paltry compared to the thousands of miles and large ocean between us.

But times were changing. It was my senior year of high school and the international move prompted my parents to get a dial-up modem. We had Internet access at home. The move didn’t feel quite so disconnecting. We had semi-instant access through computers. And they came back to visit. I watched my cousins grow in time-lapse increments.

When they were in elementary school and I was almost done with college, I went to visit them. We spent a glorious week together before I backpacked on to other locales.

And now they are here. College students themselves. The years of separation don’t matter. Some bonds simply are. Nurturing and proximity help, but they withstand neglect and time. When my cousins on my dad’s side arrive for weddings and funerals, the decades melt away.

Cousins—same roots, same collective memory, same family—the ones I fall seamlessly in step with for whichever legs of the journey we’re able to walk together.

 


This post is part of the 31 Days: Family series. Read the beginning, and see a full index of posts, here.

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run, run, run

It sounded like such a good idea when the middle and I decided to do a half marathon. He’s a runner. I am not. The good idea on my end was him coming for a weekend. The running part . . . not so much.

Upon arrival, he pointed out it was going to be quite cold during the race, perhaps I might want to purchase some appropriate clothing. It was an excellent suggestion. I bought everything he told me to.

As we made our way to the starting area on Sunday morning my fear of dying during the race began to grow. He kept offering tips such as, “eat the goo at the tables” and “don’t forget to drink water.” Water, check. Goo . . . goo?

When the gun went off it was 33˚F and the towering casinos lining the Strip would keep the course in shadows for hours. My frozen muscles felt as if they were ripping right off my bones. I gasped in pain and choked on the cold air.

He jogged beside me for a few yards before I mumbled something along the lines of “Go ahead. I’ll see you at the end.” And he was gone.

At mile one I wondered how disappointed he’d be if I quit. At mile three I thought I might not die. I drank water. I ate goo. I passed the run-through wedding chapel and dozens of running Santas. Viva Las Vegas. I’d pick a point, a casino entrance or a cluster of palm trees, and run for it. And then I’d repeat. Anything to feel like I was getting somewhere.

And then around mile seven I met Dupe. His wife of 43 years had left him in the dust about the same time my brother sprinted away. Of course he was in his 70s and had a few heart attacks under his belt while I was in my late twenties with a sound-ish medical history. We chatted and alternated jogging and walking.

Around mile ten I was itching to finish. But how could I leave Dupe? He offered to let me go ahead, but start with family, finish with new friend, no?

My brother had finished and was waiting at the finish line—snacks, water and jacket in hand—feet away from Dupe’s wife. We staggered over the line giddy to be done. Made our introductions, and then headed our separate ways.

We’d done it. The middle’s time was quite respectable—boast-worthy I thought—and I had a time, so I was happy.


This post is part of the 31 Days: Family series. Read the beginning, and see a full index of posts, here.

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