Day 9 – Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.
I have a cousin who is almost a year older than me and another who is about 6 months younger. Boy, girl (me), boy. That side of my family was very, very close growing up. Nearly all of us lived in the same town, we had Boxing Day parties so huge and boisterous we needed to rent a hall, and we took over entire campgrounds for our annual Cousins Party.
With the Younger One, we had a jar in his mom’s laundry room in which we added a new liquid or piece of fluff or something to it. It was our “Poison Jar”. Completely coincidentally, that same laundry room caught fire several years later. As children, we looked like we could be twins.
With the Older One, when we were in grade school, we went to movies with groups of friends, I envied his tension-mounted chin-up bar, and played Superman with towels pinned to our shirts. As adults, it is now us that look like siblings.
I remember one time the three of us were climbing mountains. Ok, not mountains, but the roadside cliffs in the Canadian Shield where our Cousins Parties were held, which sounds more impressive than it actually is. Focus more on the “roadside cliffs” and less on the “Canadian Shield.” Anyway, we were mountain climbing, mica hunting, truth be told, which was super smart for three kids under 10 to be doing alone next to the highway. We were pulling in a pretty sweet haul, when the Younger One lost his footing and slid over the edge. Clinging on like a scene from a movie, the Older One dove over to him, grabbed his hand and arm and pulled him up (thank goodness for that chin-up bar). I supervised the entire operation.
Despite being from the same small town, none of us went to the same grade school. By the time high school rolled around, the Older One was hanging out with the popular jock types, I was an art student who extra-curriculared in the concert band (‘nuf said), and the Younger One went to Catholic school. By then we were too old for weekend Man Hunt or rousing Asshole tournaments (we actually called it Butthole because we were angelic little things) or for burying each other in sand on the beach.
Obviously, we’re still cousins. We even still live fairly close. But it’s not the same. They might be the same, I’m not sure, but I know I’m not. I now have a hard time talking to people, even my own extended family. I’ve always been pretty shy, but it’s different now. At my own wedding, I don’t remember saying much of anything to very many people. Instead of coming out of my shell, my shell has grown larger, with a thick, impenetrable wall, that I hide in even while in plain view. So now, after many years of growing more and more apart, when I do see Older One and Younger One, I don’t have much to say.
While we’ve drifted apart emotionally nearly completely, we’re still family. There’s always a chance that one day I’ll shed my shell and we’ll gather ’round a folding table at some hall rented for some family get together and crack about old times.