My Best Friendships

Best Friends
Whether we like it or not, most of us are stuck with our families. We are not granted the luxury of choice with relatives, but for me, I was granted a luxury. My family members and I have always been very close, and luckily for me, I was raised in a big family, with plenty of cousins to go around. Apart from my family, I only keep a few people close to me. The beautiful thing is, many of my cousins also happen to be my friends. So for me, I didn’t need a choice, I was just given blessing after blessing in the form of my cousins. I’m not just talking first cousins – in some cases, I’m actually closer to my second cousins.

Aside from my six first cousins, I am also incredibly close with two of my second cousins. One of my second cousins and I are actually two days apart, and as kids, we lived one mile away from each other, so we literally grew up together. Luckily, he has been more than tolerable throughout the years. Summers were spent at his house where I lectured him on relinquishing his bad habit of playing World of Warcraft eight hours a day, running (again, literally as we were too young to drive) to the store to buy cookie dough, and chasing his little brother and my little sister away whenever they would try to steal the chicken nuggets we had made. It’s a hard-knock life, I know.

He was my friend even before I knew what the meaning of the word friend was. From playing race cars to watching scary movies (actually, more like he forced me to watch them – there was a time when we attempted to watch The Exorcism of Emily Rose at 5 a.m., and we were having a sleepover with a bunch of our other cousins, and while they were all asleep, he persistently hit me in the head to make sure I would stay awake with him. I told you, hard-knocks, man), we were inseparable for a long time there.

And even as we grew older, we have always remained fairly close. He has warned me against the assholes formerly known as boys, given me advice in my relationships, and was the person I would eat lunch with every day when we first entered the workforce (ironically, we grew up a mile apart, and then ended up working for companies that were located a mile apart). While we don’t talk as much now, I still consider him one of my best friends. He’s the person I can still go to with just about anything (I mean, really, if we are being blunt, when we were like two years old, our parents would bathe us together – and if you’re judging me for being bathed with my male cousin as babies, well then I just feel sorry for you because clearly you aren’t as close to your family), and I have constantly been thankful for his friendship these past 24 – and now almost 25 – years. Although I haven’t quite forgiven him yet for stealing my thunder – I mean really, cousin, you couldn’t let me be the cutest baby around for at least a week. And he’s never let me forget that during all the times I claim to be right because “I’m older,” I will be also be classified as a senior citizen first. I cherish the memories of growing up with him, and I can still recall 99% of them like they were yesterday.

My other second cousin is a couple years younger than me, and has always lived a little farther away (and now, really far away – sadly), but that never stopped us from having weeklong sleepovers at her house where her, my sister, and I would make every attempt to cook French toast properly, sing karaoke (she actually has a very nice voice – I, on the other hand, do not), and watch movies like Save the Last Dance and Center Stage. We even went through a major embossing period in our lives. We were literally putting and spilling glitter and jewels on everything. She was the one I would build those classic living room forts with. Hell, she’s probably still the one that would build those forts with me. She’s the one I can share my sexploitations with, the one that has always let me wake her up at the crack of dawn even though I know she hates it, and she’s already a woman I know is going to be a future bridesmaid in the wedding I will have someday.

She’s understood how dysfunctional our families can be, she knows exactly what it’s like to argue with our mothers, and I wish I could find some way to quickly bridge the distance between the two coasts. Not only is she my friend, but she is like another little sister to me. From comforting her at 2 a.m. because of an argument with her boyfriend to gossiping over our sexual encounters, I can count on her to be there – no matter the miles between us.

My first cousins are a little different in that they really do know the ins and outs of the inner core of our family. They know when there’s drama between parents, they have always forgiven me in arguments, and there’s a silent bond that is settled between us where we just get one another and we accept one another, weird quirks, random flaws, and all.

Four of my first cousins are on my mom’s side of the family, and the other two are on my dad’s. Two of my first cousins on my mom’s side are still very young, still innocent, and I love that about them. I love playing with them, hugging them, being able to witness them learning to crawl, walk, and run, and I absolutely adore the joy they bring to my grandparents. The other two are closer in age to my sister, but nevertheless, they are growing up so fast they may as well be my age. While I don’t have as many “growing up” memories with them, I do love the role I play in their lives. Whether it’s one of an older sister (and sometimes a mom), I cherish it. From 6 a.m. runs to the local diner that’s open 24/7 to sweating buckets learning to play Just Dance on their Wii, the age difference has never affected us.

The two first cousins on my dad’s side of the family are closer to my age. My sister and I spent countless weekends with them as kids, playing Marco Polo throughout their apartment to a game where we had my male cousin play this guy named Jo Schmo and he would write these scary letters to us and we would always run and hide. What can I say, we were slightly weird at the time.

My other first cousin (his sister) is the same age as I am. While we do have fairly opposite personalities, she and I have always gotten along. She’s been there for me through some of my darkest days, and has sat with me and just let me cry and yell and even whine. And she has yet to ever judge me. She has also seen me in some of my goofiest times. She has jazzercised with me out in her garage, put her arm around me when I’m feeling tipsy, and even introduced me to my current boyfriend (so I really do owe her big time for that). She’s the person I can lie in bed with and watch episodes of One Tree Hill or The Office for hours on end. And it’s nice – that we have become so comfortable with each other that we don’t need the endless talking (although we tend to do that a lot of the time – not because it’s forced, but because we share many aspects of our lives with each other). We don’t share the same circle of friends, but we have our own separate friendship – the kind where we attempt to do home workouts together and end up laughing the entire time, the kind where, when I used to live with her in her mom’s house (while our house was being remodeled), she would sit in the bathroom while I showered so we could talk some more, and then we would switch, because let’s face it, bathroom time might as well be girl time.

But the best part about these friendships is that I can count on them lasting a lifetime. These people are my blood – we have ties that bind us and go deeper than any other friendship I have created. There’s an unspoken loyalty between all of us, and so sometimes, it’s even better when we can find our friends among our families.

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