I have a lot of cousins. I have 15 first cousins and thanks to very fertile great-grandparents on both sides, there are throngs of second and third cousins, many of whom I’ve never met, and after researching the exact definition of “removed” cousins on the Internet, I could never afford to host a family reunion. If you’re reading this, we may be related.
My second cousin from Colorado and I have seen each other fairly often in recent years because her daughter was going to college near my home. Prior to that, she and her family lived all over the globe, but we’ve always kept in touch though we may not have seen each other for long periods of time after high school.
I fondly recall being her desk mate in accounting my junior year where she almost got me in trouble a few times for laughing at her wise cracks. In those days she was my protector even though our first encounters as young children were not as smooth as they should have been.
Her daughter recently graduated from college, and the family came to town to celebrate. I was immediately struck by the reality that while we’ll still see each other, there will no longer be definite dates on the calendar such as move-in, homecoming, move-out and commencement to look forward to. We’ll have to be more strategic.
One of my favorite things about Gwen’s visits, aside from the long talks, the discussions of food, physical fitness and family, is recognizing our similarities, which can be explained only by DNA. It has to be DNA because we were raised close by, but didn’t see a lot of each other outside of school.
I first noticed our many similarities four years ago. For instance, we frequently announce how early we get up in the morning. This point of pride is clearly traced to our grandmothers who were sisters that never slept late. To do so was to miss out on the better part of the day. For years I’ve enjoyed telling people how much I’ve gotten done before laying eyes on them at 9:00. I’ve written three pages, done 20 minutes of yoga, trimmed the roses, walked four miles, sent three long e-mail, made two phone calls and prepped the evening meal all before getting dressed and coming to work. What about you? I love hearing people tell me how they rolled out of bed 15 minutes before work and that I am just amazing because I get so much done.
Gwen always does more than I, which inspires me. She will have gotten an entire family up and out the door, prepared all their meals, undertaken some extreme form of physical fitness before diving into two or three of dozens of projects she’s been juggling. We are restless types who are always going, always making improvements, and are quite often fueled by good coffee.
We even drive similarly much to the dismay of our loved ones. I didn’t realize this until her husband commented that I drove the car like I’d stolen it. I was simply easing onto an LA freeway, but he referred to my method as “gunning and running it.” I’m finally glad to have a name for it. I used to get dinged by my parents on fast acceleration when I was in high school, but if I was ever following my mother down the road, she was a challenge to keep up with. My grandmother was even worse as she flew across the lake bridge on her way home from the many places she’d visited before noon on any particular day.
I have to confess that as early as I get up most mornings, I do require at least one long sleep session during the weekend. Shameful behavior, I know, but I can’t keep up with my façade of efficiency without going into the periodic coma and taking an hour to wake up before doing very little. While I feel rested, I battle the guilt of knowing that there is so much I’ve left undone. That’s when I grab a notepad and make a list of all the things I’ll do…tomorrow.
But back to Gwen. So much of what comes out of her mouth is like hearing me talk. That’s a combination of DNA and being brought up in the same community. When someone’s getting a little out of hand, we’ll call out “Rein it in!” When a situation has become chaotic, we tend to refer to it as a “calf scramble” and we’re constantly coming up with ways to motivate those around us to action because we’re always in a hurry and are of the opinion that everyone else could move a little faster if they just would.
My favorite Gwen-ism: “There are a thousand ways to get to the post office, but we won’t be going your way today.” While I don’t use that exact phrasing, I have my own ways of getting that message across. Not only does this attitude remind me of Gwen and of myself, it reminds me of several family members who descend from my grandmother’s line. To outsiders we may seem bossy, but the reality is that if we slow down or stop moving, something unpleasant is going to catch us.
© 2015 by Patrick Brown
Visit my author page at http://www.amazon.com/Patrick-Brown/e/B005F0CYH2/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1419885131&sr=8-1 to learn about my books “Moral Ambiguity” and “Tossed Off the Edge.”