Today, with my cousin and his wife in town for a wedding, I met up with them and my other cousin, his wife, and son for brunch in Soho this afternoon. The food was good, and things kind of went the way I thought they would. My cousin’s son stood up on his seat and refused to behave or eat any of the food that was presented to him, my cousin’s wife who lives here barely made any effort to talk to me or our visiting cousins, or to ask about our lives, and my visiting cousins ate their food and made small talk about what they’ve been doing in New York, in their last leg of their trip in London and Paris, and how the wedding last night went.
I’m sure my visiting cousin sets up these meals because he wants us to have a semblance of a functional extended family. He wants to make it seem like we’re “normal,” like we get along and actually want to see each other. Don’t get me wrong — I don’t mind seeing him and his wife. They’re probably the most normal of the cousins on that side of the family in that they actually are relatively happy and healthy people, and they get along with most people and their families and try to be good human beings. But we rarely talk about anything that matters. I just started a new job. Why is no one asking me how the new job is going and what I’m doing there? Why is his brother not asking him about his Europe trip, which he just came back from? Why is no one other than his parents giving any attention to the little four-year-old at the table? Why aren’t we having a real catch up to discuss our actual lives and what is important?
Oh, that’s because that stuff is too deep, and we don’t want to have deep relationships with each other. I got it.