On my mom's side of the family, I do not have many close relatives. My mom is an only child. However, my mom is close to her cousins. When they were growing up they all lived near each other and would assemble at their grandmother's house every Sunday. Since my mom's cousins had a lot of children, I have a lot of second cousins.
Now a word on second cousins. Regular cousins (or first cousins) are the children of your parent's brothers or sisters. The closest common ancestor first cousins share are two of their grandparents. Second cousins are people whose closest common ancestor is two of their great grandparents. On my mom's side I am connected to my second cousins because we have the same great grandmother and great grandfather.
How well I know these people varies. In the mid 90s there were a few big family reunions. At some point I met all of my second cousins (cousins from now on). However, most of my cousins were a bunch of names I heard but did not know. Most of this is geography. My cousins currently live in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Georgia. When I lived in Ohio it was easier to see them occasionally, but that was 14 years ago.
In spite of the intervening time zones, I know a few of them to some degree. I know the ones who live 10 minutes from my grandma because I see them almost every time I visit her. I also know the ones who live in Michigan because my family did things with them. We saw them when we went to Detroit, went to sporting events with them, and even went to Montreal with them. The bride is from that family so I know a few things about her as well as her brother and sister.
Since I had not seen some of my cousins in 16 years, I had no idea who was who. My mom was clueless as well. She could tell me the names of Uncle Mike's or Uncle Joe's children, but she could not match the names with faces. I spent a long time talking to who I thought was Gabby, but I learned the next day it was actually Tori. It was only after I asked my aunt for help that I got everyone's name correct.
I learned my cousins are up to varied things such as:
- Training to be a mad scientist. He is pursuing a degree in chemistry and German.
- Preparing to be a priest. He is a few years into the seminary.
- Obsessed with doing the creep from this Saturday Night Live video. I thought she was dancing like a t-rex until she explained it.
- Watching the TV show Burn Notice. It is her favorite show and she watches it with her husband.
- Looking for a major related to art and being involved with Newman activities at her college.
- Living every little girl's dream. She has a horse named Patriot.
- Frequenting the local bars and being friends with the sample girls for Dewar's Scotch.
I should throw in a picture, so here is Annie and me.
I did a lot of driving in the Motor City. Before leaving home, I decided to memorize the locations of the airport, my hotel, the church, the reception, some local places to eat, and how to drive between all of them. The first day I was there I drove 208 miles. I drove on such freeways as the 94, the 75, the 696, the 275, and even the 96.
Here is a wedding program, favors, and some cereal that is made in Detroit.
I would have put my own name tag in this picture, but it was thrown away. Sometime between talking to my cousin Gabby and the band finishing Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" it disappeared from my table.
Being in Detroit reminded me that a lot of places have a lot of differences from Orange County. There are places where every block is not tightly packed with as many houses and stores as possible. The houses in Michigan had big yards and the cities were spread out. In a similar vein, are you familiar with pop? If you want a soft drink in Michigan everyone calls it pop, not soda or coke. If you want to learn more this map shows the regional distribution of what terms people use to describe soft drinks.
On one last Detroit centered comment, at the wedding they played Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'." I learned there is no South Detroit. It is either Windsor, Canada or someplace downtown.