i have always been rather independent. i propelled myself from home and once i muddled through the obligatory earn-this-degree and be a semi-functioning adult in this world decade post-high school, i not only moved to new york city to find my destiny but also found myself traveling the world – hmmm…trying to find my destiny love. there are lots of people i grew up with – and i’m sure this is true for you or for many people you know – who stayed close to home. they built their lives around what they knew and function happily there (i’m sure for some, unhappily).
after much world-wandering, i found myself with roots in brooklyn. first a tiny apartment in brooklyn heights and then, once i was the other half of a couple, sharing a house (a house in nyc~!) further out in midwood. my family scattered far and wide. we all used to be in philadelphia. and when i say all, i mean pretty much all. my maternal grandmother was one of 13 children and there were myriads of 1st cousins on my father’s side. we used to have a ‘family circle’ and i remember trips on big rented buses to washington, d.c. as a big family. we saw my mother’s side a lot when we were younger and less as we grew older. now, for both sides, we find ourselves scattered. a few remain in philly but we’ve flung ourselves to new mexico, atlanta, maryland, new jersey, and california.
imagine my surprise when i found out that a cousin – a real cousin – lived mere blocks from my office. i found out by accident years ago when a real estate broker mentioned the name of her buyer for a house and that name, rather unusual, was my mother’s maiden name. this cousin and i shared a great grandfather. i got in touch and, perhaps as it was a turbulent time in his life – a child on the way, a new house, a wife who may not have been so motivated to socialize with family that was not hers – we never got together. i knew that something had happened between our parents – something subtle but perhaps his parents weren’t so keen to socialize with mine. i never got the whole story – as i think it sat more on his side than mine. one adult not liking another adult. one non-related adult not liking their spouse’s related adult. these things happen. they also were living a very very upscale life – a wildly grand house in the plunk middle of the fanciest part of park slope, brooklyn and parents who retired to the very exclusive hamptons.
i let much time go by. last year, teenage daughter turned 14 and i remember thinking that it was so silly that she – my only child – had a cousin mere blocks from her school and didn’t know her. so i emailed. imagine my surprise to find out in a cordial return email that she had two younger cousins nearby (what a difference a few years make) and was told all the right soothing things: nice to hear from you; oh yes we should get together; let’s talk at the end of the summer and make some plans. time passed. my adult cousin showed up on fb and i friended him. we went through the same dance. i have never been shy about taking the first step. in this case, i took the first step 3 times over 3x as many years. well, all things in 3’s. a full facebook-year later, today, i unfriended him. whatever his issues are, whatever social plane he thinks he lives on, i am finally unwilling to share my small bit of fb feelings with the cousin that doesn’t want to be a cousin. it was a valentine’s day release.