Last night after my meeting in Menlo Park, I went to Palo Alto to meet my cousin and his wife for dinner. It was a pleasant evening of drinking, eating very tasty Burmese food, and talking about a lot of light-hearted things. There was no real bonding in the sense of emotionally connecting or finding out the depths of each other’s minds, but it was still enjoyable.
Over the last seven or eight years, I’ve really struggled to maintain a close relationship with my cousins. Maybe it’s just a part of becoming more mature, more of the person I want to be in terms of values and goals, and realizing how much that clashes with them. I suppose it’s a similar struggle we face with friends as we grow older, but friends can easily drift and never see each other again and just each others’ Facebook posts. With cousins, they are bonded to you by blood, so it’s inevitable that even if you don’t want to, that you will need to see them again in some capacity.
Maybe my struggle with them is partly my own fault. It’s because I want them to be something to me that they cannot be because they just don’t have the ability. I always have an ideal of what a friend should be, what a spouse should be, what a mom or dad or cousin should be, and when they don’t meet that ideal, I feel disappointed and oftentimes angered by it. Why can’t we understand each other? It has to be because they aren’t trying hard enough, no? Why can’t you see why X event or action would make me angry? I don’t think it’s due to a lack of caring but rather due to a lack of ability. None of us is perfect. And we all have such different views shaped by our different experiences. Just like one friend will never be able to satisfy all my needs of a friend, my cousins will never be able to fulfill what I wish they could be to me as my cousins. Perhaps with some it’s due to a lack of caring. But with this cousin, I don’t think that’s the case. I just need to see and accept him as he is and stop questioning why he can’t be more than that. Sometimes, you just want the company of someone familiar who you’ve known for 29-plus years, and things can be good — not amazing, but still good. And maybe that can be enough if I just let it be enough.