My family and I are a simple power of three. We have family around the world and sometimes we travel to see them. Mostly it’s just us.
My parents are old school; they contact their relatives by phone or WhatsApp. For them it makes sense to be in touch; they’ve grown up with them before they moved here. But I’ve never met so many of them. Shy, self-conscious and uncomfortable, I make sure I’m not around when the calls are made. I have to answer the same questions: what grade are you in? I graduated! When are you coming to visit? Um…*awkward laugh, look at my mom for help*
With the access of Facebook searches, I’ve had cousins add me. I cross check with my parents to make sure they’re really my cousins before I accept their request. It’s how I see posts from my cousins from different countries. Yet, I can’t find my voice to establish a direct communication line with them. Just as a genealogy paper, we just appear to be family on the web.
But how can blood lines make up family? My parents and I are the nuclear family. They are a constant in my life. I have friends who are more constant in my life than my cousins. Blood does not negate family; they have to earn that title.
And that’s not easy. My parents are loners too. They are mistrustful of people’s intentions regardless of relation. Having seen their fair share of their parents’ gullible mistakes, when they do host dinners, they make sure the night is filled with cards, board games, movies and lots of food to keep everyone occupied from asking for handouts or weeping their woes to get my parents’ sympathy. Having witnessed this growing up, it takes me a long time to open up to people. I didn’t fully open up to my best friend Chit for two years! And I already called her my best friend.
Now as a pending message awaits in my Facebook inbox from a cousin, I contemplate how to address, “how you doing?” I predict the conversation to be short without details. But if I don’t give us a chance to warm up to each other, I won’t be giving her a chance to earn being family. Here’s to trying.