Maybe it's because I had a random dream about two of my cousins, and the fun we once had running around the sand and water at the beach, or maybe it's because I WON'T get to see two other cousins when I go visit their hometown, because they'll be in Utah that weekend. But whatever the cause, I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be family and cousins and how time passes without us really knowing why we don't speak.
One of my cousins used to spend weeks at a time with us in the summer, and often her entire spring break or part of Christmas break. She practically lived at our house. She basically had her own bedroom, and most importantly, she didn't have to deal with her wild little sister.
And it's been over three years since I talked to her or saw her. I heard through a random second cousin in Michigan that she'll be going to school in San Francisco in the Fall...but that's all the news I've had. My grandmother refuses to gossip; my cousin doesn't return my e-mails. She'll send a very basic thank you card for a birthday or Christmas gift, but nothing like the long letters she used to write, telling me all about her life, her worries, her joy.
I'm not exactly sure where we went wrong. I don't blame either one of us entirely. We're probably both at fault. When I was thirteen, and she was eight, and she stayed at our house for six weeks at a time, I tended to get bossy, and moody and tempermental. In my defense, I am an only child, and having this younger being in the house for extended periods of time was incredibly new to me. I may have been mature in other areas but having to share my parents' affection? Now, that was new and incredibly difficult. Maybe she still thinks of me as the bossy older cousin...who knows? So, I blame myself for liking to be in charge and direct things, even our ridiculous home movies. And I don't so much blame her as the druggie, high-school drop-out boyfriend who took her away from her whole family for a while. I think she returned to the fold of her parents and sister, but she never quite made it back to extended family.
In any case, I miss her in a way that's hard to explain, because she's family, and she's basically my little sister. Or as close as I'll ever have. But I also don't feel compelled to force communication in the same way that I do with other people who I've lost touch with over the years. I still believe that she'll come back, and I'll be bossy (because, hey, I'm still me), and she'll hate it that I call her "Kid," and then we'll laugh till we cry, eat lots of popsicles and videotape ourselves doing things that only make sense to us, in our made-up world.