Last month, I turned 50. Today, my cousin does. I remember her as blonde and beautiful, a singing, dancing dynamo always in motion.
She was pretty and pretty much perfect – in my eyes. She was the little girl I wanted to be. Tiny. Blonde. Adorable. Beloved.
We shared an imaginary world in our Grandparents’ basement, where, on weekends, we performed operas, opened a flower shop, snuck into the unlocked Catholic church next door and examined the items in the vestry.
Later, we talked about boys, had sleepovers, dreamed little girl dreams.
We wore the same pink foam curlers in our hair at night.
Growing up and apart, like branches on a tree, is a sad thing. We flourish, but what we leave behind sometimes feels like a tragedy.
Our childhood selves. The smell of a summer morning. A sleepover where you barely sleep, then get up early to bake cookies in the morning. Secrets. Cousins. Connectedness.
A gorgeous Italian woman I know was also born in 1966. She and her cousins call themselves the ‘66 Babies. That’s how I’ve been thinking of myself, and of my sweet cousin ever since.
66 Babies: yes, we grew apart in two different worlds, but we both did a good job with the growing.
Happy 50, Alana. You're starting on the most exciting half.
(Everybody: if you can, hug your cousin/s today. A virtual squeeze will do.)