Tuesday, January 17, 2006

New Thing #17: My text message conversation with my cousin Nikki

I have a very large family. Actually, I have several very large families, but the family I'm talking about right now is the one on my mom's side. Lots of aunts and nephews and grandparents and Sri Lankan wives and third-cousins-half-removed and one extremely cool 4-year-old uncle. Most of the family lives in southern California--and the ones who don't live here, well, they travel here as often as they can--which is fairly often--and any excuse we can make to get together, well, we make the excuse and we get together. You say it’s your birthday…Awesome—who’s buying the cake? You’ve got another anniversary coming up…We’ll be there for dinner. And while we’re eating, why don’t we plan Christmas at Grandpa and Granny J’s? And then we can talk about having Hanukkah at Aunt Lee’s. And then we can arrange a get-together the following Sunday for brunch in Mom and Joe’s backyard. Why? Because it’s Sunday, and we wanna see each other, and why not?

Honestly, if you offer us up a holiday, we’ll embrace it and then celebrate the hell out of it. I'm surprised we didn't get together for MLK day yesterday. Because getting together? That's what we do.

We also eat too much and we talk over each other and we laugh and we get into each other's business and I always make my mom cry at least once and then everyone will try to figure out what I said this time that made Sherry cry and then my mom and I will start laughing uncontrollably and then people will stop trying to figure out why Sherry's crying and they'll all decide, again, that we're a little bit crazy, and then we'll eat some more, and we'll laugh some more, and we'll yell over each other some more, and we'll end up talking about whether or not we should all go see a movie until we realize it's too late to see a movie because we've been talking about it for so long that now it's time for everyone to go home. Then we'll spend 45 minutes saying good-bye to each other, and some of us will say things like: "Don't you love a long Jewish good-bye?," while others of us will say things like: "I hate Jewish good-byes, get in the car, I wanna go home."

And of course we have our problems, just like every family, but the one thing I can be sure of every time the family gets together is that there will be as much love as there is food.

But my one complaint about these big frenetic family get-togethers is that sometimes I don’t get enough one-on-one with people because we’re so busy being big and loud and frenetic. Which is why the conversation I had with my cousin Nikki over the weekend merits New Thing status. Now, of course I’ve had thousands of conversations with my cousin Nikki, but I've never had a conversation with my cousin Nikki via text message, until this weekend, and I’ve never had a conversation with her quite like this specific conversation.

I know that saying "I've never had a conversation with my cousin Nikki via text message, until this weekend" maybe sounds like I'm cheating with my New Things. Like, maybe if you're a cynic, then right now you might be thinking something along the lines of: "I bet his next New Thing is gonna be something stupid like 'I have never hopped on one foot while saying the pledge of allegiance at exactly 9:17 p.m.'" Well, maybe that will be my next New Thing. But it's my Year of New Things, so I can hop on one foot while saying the pledge of allegiance at exactly 9:17 p.m. if I want to.

Anyway, the text message conversation started out fairly simple. Like this:

ERIK: Like, whatever.

This was how I decided to say hello. Nikki's a teenager, and so I thought it was an appropriate hello. So then I got her response:

NIKKI: I know, right?

Awesome, she knows exactly what I'm talking about. So I replied:

ERIK: Totally.

And then she continued, still with me:

NIKKI: For sure.

And then I was like:

ERIK: Listen girlfriend, that's what I'm talking about.

(Seriously, that was my response.) And then she responded:

NIKKI: Like totally, for real, i'm like: ok!

But then she ended the game:

NIKKI: Haha…SO…how r u big cousin?

And I could have just said “fine,” which is what you usually say when someone asks you how you are, and probably what I would have said to my cousin in the past because she’s ten years younger than I am, but the truth is that, before this text message conversation, I’d been at a funeral, and it had been a long, sad day. So instead of saying “fine,” I told my cousin about my day, and we had a real conversation. Kind of odd to be having a real conversation via text messages, but it was real nonetheless.

And if the main goal of my Year of New Things is to have some new experiences, well, having a text message conversation with my cousin Nikki was just that. But it was more than that, too. The way I see it, it marks a shift in our relationship. I feel like she and I are transitioning from our old relationship (which, because of our ten year age difference, has always been along the lines of older cousin/kid cousin/playful) into a new one (which is becoming more of a "we're cousins but we’re also friends so we can talk about shit" kind of relationship).

And I like this new relationship that my little cuz and I are forming. So I’m marking down our text message conversation as New Thing #17.

Or, like, whatever.


dustin said...

This entry is great. I have a cousin... two cousins... rachel and amanda.. they live in sacamento... in the boon dogs... (whatever that means) ;-) and i've known them since they were babies! but now they're like 16 and 19! Yikes! Our relationship has changed over the years and we always text back and forth... usually dumb stuff like what boy we like or how's your family... i'm glad to have them and glad that your post today made me appreciate a good superficial text message and a deep thoughtful text..... I do have to say, I am curious what your final text conversation was..... smiles ;-)

dustin said...

I'm a dork. I figured it out.


One entry found for boondocks.
Main Entry: boon·docks
Pronunciation: 'bün-"däks
Function: noun plural
Etymology: Tagalog bundok mountain
1 : rough country filled with dense brush
2 : a rural area : STICKS

jenny said...

tht z so cool! r u going 2 txt hr agn?

Dop said...

Great post. I am 39 and have also recently struck up a better reltaionship with my cousin Kati, who is 24. She's always been like a little sister, but now we email each other and its very cool. My family gets together just like yours. I had an uncle once (we killed him because he had no sense of humour) who said that my family invented holidays just so we could get together. Nice.

Erik said...

Dustin: The final conversation wasn't as exciting as the fact that we had bridged our way from the jokey superficial valley speak to something real, you know?

Jenny: hi grl! totlly! ttyl!

Dop: Even if you did invent holidays just so you could all get together, what would be so bad about that?

Anonymous said...

sri lankan wives? whatchu talkin about willis?

Erik said...

Sorry, only ONE sri lankan wife.

Anonymous said...


I couldn't read about our family and not write you. I'm so glad you are really TALKING to your little cousin. You are both so special! Thank you for making me laugh out loud every day.....I lOVE your blog. And what are you doing for January 22nd. We all need to get together again as it's been at least a WEEK!!!

One of your many aunts on your Mom's side xoxoxoxo

Erik said...

Are you in town on the 22nd? That's tomorrow, right? (I just woke up and I'm not quite awake, but I think that's tomorrow.)