Many years ago, I left my hometown. I moved to Seattle, not that far from my hometown, but apparently far enough away to keep most of my family away. Initially I left and told no one where I went. I called my mom once a month to let her know I was alive. Eventually I told my mom and a few others where I was.
I rarely make it back home. By design? More accurately by accident. When I moved here, I gave up my car as I figured out public transit. I have not owned a car since. I also have not dated many men with cars. Going home, has not been an option. I think for my grandmother’s funeral my father picked me up. It was not even his mother, but my maternal grandmother.
I have many cousins on both sides of the family. I cut off all communication with them once I escaped the backwoods. I do hold a certain amount of disdain for the country. I suppose it is due to what it represents to me. I feel as though I was robbed of education and exposure to an entire world by my upbringing.
A few months ago I received a strange email from a cousin. He had also been in a bicycle collision. His was actually much worse than mine, he broke his back. We emailed back and forth for a week or so. I was much further along in my recovery and could only give him insight into things such as plateaus in your recovery. I encouraged him to continue fighting to regain his ability to ride. For me, not being able to ride is a sort of handicap. I wanted to convey that to him as well.
Last month, my mother informed me that another cousin was in the hospital. This was one that had inspired me to change my life. He doesn’t know it, nor will he ever. You see my cousin has Type II Diabetes. He has it so bad, he is now on dialysis and has lost his leg. Last month was the first time I had seen him since 2005. I had not seen him since his health had been irreversible.
I dated a man in 2008 with Type II Diabetes. He was a freak about my status. He worried that I would get it too. Specifically since I was a vegetarian, he felt like I ran a higher risk. I assured him that I was a much lower risk. Living with someone dealing with this disease really made me think about my cousin a lot. I even went to grad school to learn about food systems.
I gave my cousin my number in the hospital, he was asleep when I went to visit. I was very worried about giving him my number. I worry about my cousin, but from a distance. There are reasons I cut off contact, and now I am reminded why. In my past, I associated with friends and family because they were close and who I knew. Moving away changed all that. I had to start from scratch, making friends based on common interests and ideas. I had cut out a huge drain on my soul when I moved away.
Talking to my cousin again reminded me of this. It reminded me of the bickering and the negativity that I had managed to eliminate from my life. When I went to see him, I chose to ask pointed questions to him. I did not want to focus on my life, but on him. I had this sinking feeling that my life would make him more depressed. He talked about all the cousins that I have no contact with and all the bickering and, wow I am so happy I am isolated sometimes.
We all have this internal desire to connect with others. Some of us are tightly connected to our families, some of us chose to connect with those we seek out. I am conflicted. In one case, I miss some parts of my family. A nice email or phone call on occassion would be nice. In other cases, just let me know they are alive and that is all I care about. We all have those people in our lives that drag us down, we can choose to keep those connections, severe them and even reconnect later, or we can just kind of drift away. However you do it, remember that you do things for reasons. I always say, they are an ex for a reason. If I wanted them to be around still they would not be an ex. The same is true about family, although you cannot divorce your family, you can disconnect from them.