As I sit here and look back on the past few days, I realize that I'm way more comfortable here in my cousin's home than any other person's home that I've visited, stayed, or overnighted. It made me wonder how this came to be. How come I'm so at home in a home that's not my home?
At the very base of it all, it's because despite our age gap (14 years), we are very close. It helps that when I was a kid, she used to care for my brother and I for a short time. Our conversations over the years have become deeper and more meaningful, insightful and shareable at every step of our aging process.
We've always kept in touch no matter where she moved to. While she was still living in New Jersey, I visited the family often after I got my drivers license. I'd spend a weekend with them, toting my other cousins with me for the getaway. And when she moved here to Texas, we kept in touch most often by phone calls. We'd chat while she or I was at work; I'd sometimes even help her with her Excel problems.
I guess what I'm trying to say through all of this is that I love the bonds I've formed with this family. Their home is actually my home too. And because of this, I'm able to just be myself around them all the time. I say what comes to mind; I rummage through the fridge and pantry; I wash the dishes no matter who has used them; I take out the trash; I drive their cars; I test the youngest's math skills; I tease the middle child about girls; I ask the eldest to help me grocery shop; I dole out the family gossip to my cousin and exchange stories, then share some life insights to her kids. And in return, they all welcome my wife and I whole-heartedly into their home, treat us with respect, and love us as much as we love them.