Dear Cousin

Dear Cousin,

almost five years ago we last met, but how strange that it doesn’t feel like that long ago at all. There is this familiarity, this instant joy – it must be one of the perks of being a part of a family.

I knew, of course, that you must have changed, given the circumstances, just as I have changed. I guess I didn’t know how much you have changed, though, because I have met quite a number of people for whom being in a foreign country had almost no effect at all. Or so it seemed to me at that time. Maybe I just didn’t dig deep enough.

That’s the thing, though. How deep do you want to go? How deep do I want to go? It’s so difficult, being cousins. My mom and sister have seen me at my worst, so I don’t feel the need to hide anything from them – not even by omission. On the other hand, I am surrounded by casual acquaintances who wants me to say everything is fine, fine, fine; to talk a little about my life, funny anecdotes, etc. Some demand more, so I say that things suck when they suck, and that life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows.
But I am more than just pleasant smiles and ready nods. I am more than just a body for other people to comment on. I have opinions, fears, desires, bad habits, passions, plans and dreams. I am more than I appear to be, just as you are more than just a tall guy with a friendly smile and funny stories. You are more than your respect for our grandparents, more than your conflicting ideas about how to live a life, more than your desire for solitude in the nature to write and think.
We maintain façades for family gatherings but I have moments of deep despair and jubilant happiness, and I am sure you do, too.

The fact is, I am wildly curious about you, and what kind of person you are. Maybe it’s because of our shared childhood in the country, or maybe because we – alongside with our siblings – share the trait of being cultural-hybrids. Ha, and I tend to be nosy. I won’t pressure anyone to share things they don’t want to share, but I am all-or-nothing kind of person. I can be… a bit overwhelming, which is why I avoid opening up to people.

Of course, it must sound ironic since I have opened up a LOT on my blog, and to a group of strangers, too! But it is easier to tell anonymous people about the darkest parts of my life because we are all just faceless entities to each other. They are not obligated to meet me; they can just move on from my story to another’s. They have the choice to remain anonymous. You, on the other hand, do not have such choice. We are family, so you are bound to see me whenever we are both in Korea. Am I afraid of what you will think of me once you know pretty much everything? Yes, because I’m only a human. No, because I have the feeling you won’t be judgmental. I also have the feeling that you are less awkward with people than I am, so that will help our conversation, too.

Because in the end, that’s what I wish for: a two-sided, equally footed conversation. An exchange of ideas and opinions and stories of the past and hopes for the future.

I’m too tired to think straight anymore – good night, and take care!

Affectionately yours,
Your cousin

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