Over the past few months, and more so recently, I have renewed my friendship with my cousin. That’s not a big deal in most families. My family is very small.
My dad is one of three children, my mother two. Much of my mother’s extended family never made it through World War II. I shudder to think of their fate.
I have one sister and she has three children. None of us live near each other.
My sister’s in Wisconsin – her children away at school most of the year. My folks are in Florida, living the ‘Club Med for Seniors’ lifestyle. Uncle Murray is still in Queens, New York – but his children are in Maryland, Florida and California. You get the point.
And then, there are the relatives I don’t speak with. I won’t go into it here, but it’s my guess every family has its dysfunctionality. Us too.
Cousin Michael was among my closest friends growing up. Through our late teens, in the late 60’s, we were together all the time traveling with friends to Manhattan on Friday’s and Saturday’s to see rock acts at the Village Theater (aka Fillmore East).
Michael was there when I saw Grateful Dead and Moby Grape on the bill with the Joshua Light Show. For a few bucks we saw dozens of shows in that ratty old theater with torn seats on the Lower East Side.
I remember summer evenings with Michael and our friend Larry, taking the subway to Greenwich Village and then walking down McDougall Street past the record stores and head shops. Sometimes stopping at Blimpies for a meal.
In those politically charged years we talked lots of politics. The Vietnam War was raging, and we were of the age to worry about being asked to go there, Michael, who was bolder than I, was much more active. We were all opinionated.
When I left for college, and then a few years later moved to Florida, we drifted apart. It’s only now that I am hearing about what he did during those years. His life would make a pretty compelling book. It would be interesting as fiction – but as a true life tale, it’s fascinating, spiced with familiar names in unfamiliar surroundings.
Michael’s life is very different now. He and his wife Melissa, and their son Max, live on the West Coast. Over the years, Michael mastered the art of education, and has all manner and form of degrees. A few weeks ago he added a PhD to his collection.
I think being married and having a child has been really good for Michael. I’m confident Michael is good for them too.
Recently, Michael and I have been spending more time together on the phone. It’s a shame he lives so far away. I get the better of the deal, calling when my minutes are free – and his probably not.
He is intellectual and analytical a good conversationalist and good sounding board. It’s a shame we lost so many years of friendship.
He, Melissa and Max will be joining us for vacation this summer. I’m looking forward to seeing them again. Las Vegas is not Greenwich Village. Though maybe, in 2004, we go to Las Vegas for the same reasons we went to Greenwich Village. I’m sure we’ll have this discussion later.