I have a favorite cousin. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say that, but it’s true. I’m seven years older than her, and growing up I wasn’t too sure about her. Her fondest memory of our childhood together was me calling her ghetto, and then refusing to tell her what it meant. I have no memory of this, but she insists that it traumatized her. I went from being the only grandchild, to having competition. And babies are cute, and require a lot of attention. She stole my thunder. I had to share with her, and help her build puzzles. It was a giant buzzkill.
I vividly remember spending a summer babysitting her, and I thought the world was ending. She kept interrupting me while I was trying to watch Dawson’s Creek. I couldn’t be bothered to entertain her, when my favorite characters were on TV. Full disclosure, I don’t remember a single episode of that show. It definitely isn’t in my favorites. But in that moment, it was so important to me to watch it. And apparently, ignore Maddison as much as possible. I also remember making a lot of box mac and cheese. Pretty sure I’m going down in the babysitting hall of fame. If that even exists.
As I got older, our time together grew smaller. I had other friends, and walking around the mall was the cool thing to do. I was moving on. I remember trying to act like I really had my shit together anytime I saw her. I wanted her to look up to me. And to be slightly jealous of how awesome I was. Spoiler alert: I wasn’t cool. Or awesome.
We really weren’t super close until our family went through something super hard. And complicated. I’m not going to get into it here, but it was kind of a turning point for my relationship with Maddison. It became very clear that there were sides to be taken, and either side you chose would hurt the other. I chose her. I knew that I could very easily never see her or talk to her again, and that terrified me. I wanted to be in her life, and her in mine. So I chose her. And to this day, I continue to make that same choice.
Since then, we have formed such a tight bond. She is one of my best friends. In fact, a few years ago, the two of us took a trip to see The Little Mermaid. It was such a fun trip. We made so many memories together. My husband calls us “genetic clones”, because at times, we are basically the same person.
The summer before she moved away to college, we spent a lot of time together. We had gotten in the habit of getting our nails done together, and I remember feeling so sad that she was moving. I knew we would still see each other often, but things were just going to be different. Thankfully we have Snapchat, and were able to stay in touch with filtered pictures and videos. She would come over whenever she was in town, and we would eat slice-and-bake cookies and watch Gilmore Girls. Some of our BEST moments together were spent on my couch. Not really talking or doing anything, just being together.
Now, I live in DFW, and our time together is even less. In fact, I haven’t seen her since I moved, over a month ago. But we text often, and continue to send our life updates over social media apps. Which isn’t as lame as it may sound. Our relationship is sweet, and I truly cherish what we have.
Today, she graduates from college. I was originally supposed to go see her, but because life isn’t always fair, I was unable to be there. But I am there in spirit, baby. I am so stinking proud of her, and all that she has accomplished. I am in awe of the woman she is becoming. I admire the shit out of her for her bravery. And I hope that when I grow up, I can be just like her.
To Maddison, on your graduation day : YOU DID IT!!! Congrats! You are slightly less ghetto today.