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Entry date: 8-18-2022 - Cousins are people too - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,


This is not a particularly important day, August 18, anymore. There was a time when it was, in a way, and I would reach out to my cousin, Christine, and tell her happy birthday. Those days are gone, though. I don’t have a feeling of need or necessity to reach out to someone who has no need for me.


Family is weird, right?


I am not saying I have animosity or hard or harsh feelings toward my cousin. We just aren’t part of each other’s lives anymore. Life is like that. People change and grow and do their own thing. It’s not like we don’t have anything in common. She’s an educator, too, and has been for a very long time. I’d like to pick her brain, but it would just seem weird at this point.


When we were kids, we weren’t particularly close. She was the oldest cousin on my dad’s side of things on we were the closest in age for a while, but that was about it. I think we got along fairly well until high school. When I got to that age, though, things seemed to change. I remember being proud of her because she was a big-time cheerleader, but that was about it.


I would occasionally meet people who went to the same school as she did in the punk scene and they would be like, “That’s your cousin?” but what did I know. I don’t really know her, but I do hope she is having a happy birthday today.


I have two first cousins on my mom’s side, Ben and Sage, and a gaggle of first cousins on my dad’s side. In addition to Christine (who goes by Chris, I think), I have her sister, Debbie, too. Sadly, both of their parents, my aunt Barbara and uncle Dave have both passed. I loved them both very much. I am in touch with Deb, though, and I enjoy hearing from her when I do. I should probably do a better job of reaching out.


Jennifer, Susie, Linda, and Carolyn are my uncle Dennis and aunt Kathy’s daughters. I have spent the most time with Sue and Linda over the years. They are lots of fun. I am bummed that Linda moved to San Diego a while back, but it seems like she’s having a blast out there. She and Sue used to support my bands when they could and that was always nice.


My uncle Tom and aunt Kathy gave me three cousins: Tim, Tracy, and Brian. I used to do a fantasy basketball league with Tim and Brian but got to the point where I just lost interest in pro basketball statistics and it’s quite necessary to be successful in fantasy sports to be interested. Sometimes I miss it, but what I miss most is being in contact with those guys more regularly. Tracy is a good egg, too, and it’s always nice to see them when I can.


I’m not the best at keeping in touch with family anymore.


I barely talk to Sage. He’s off doing his own thing and whatever that is, I guess it is fulfilling for him. We talk basketball occasionally. Ben and I are not as close as I would like to be. It’s hard to juggle all the things in life you want to juggle. He was my best friend for much of my early life and that will never change.


I can do better, I suppose. As I mentioned, back in June I got to connect with cousins in Ohio and that was great. I look forward to doing so again on future trips. There is a tie there, with Cleveland, and with them that is so pleasing and comfortable and easy. I hope we can get to know each other better.


There is a lot of cousins out there across the Midwest, actually, that I would love to get to know better. I wish I could say with some certainty it will happen, but it’s a nice thought and something I can achieve over the coming years. Just need to reach out…


I’ve mentioned here, too, that I’m very blessed to have some wonderful family by marriage. There are tons of cousins across Maine, and I like getting to hang out with them when I am back there. Lots of characters (and, truly, character) in the gaggle of cousins, first or second or further removed. Blessed, lucky, whatever you want to call it. I am a better person for knowing them.


Thinking of my cousin, today, has made me think a lot about the network of people out there I am connected to by blood and DNA. All of those who I have met and spent time with have impacted my life. I have some amazing memories and I can smile about most of them. Angry young man that I was and could be, I’d take back a lot of things I did and said, too, but I’m guessing I don’t need to do so.


I am sorry, though, for being a dick sometimes or trying to be something that I wasn’t. I am also sorry I have not made myself more available as a cousin. There are many roles for a good cousin: friend, protector, tormentor, competitor, teammate, companion. I’d like to think I can still be one or many of these if someone needs me.


They will pop up here and there in my stories, I’m sure, both true and made up. I love that I have such a wealth of personality and charm and intelligence to choose from for inspiration. I probably should share this with them in a more personal way than just this blog. I have a challenge, I suppose. Maybe it is a challenge that we all feel as we get to this age…to this point.


I’ll leave you with this. I don’t think I have had more fun with anyone in my life, though, than my cousin Ben. We did so much together while growing up and saw so many things. We learned about life and all its good and bad and ugly and beautiful aspects. I hope we can collaborate on telling some stories together.


See you tomorrow.

Probably taken by my dad, this picture depicts Ben and I sometime around 1975, I'm guessing.

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