A list of things I have in common with my cousin, Ollie.

Life can be even more enjoyable when you know you have a dear kindred spirit within your family. People often celebrate their ties to their siblings, or a favorite grandparent, and I have been lucky to enjoy the affection of many of my relatives, near and far. But some relationships aren't really dependent on growing up with someone nearby, or having major childhood events in common. The person most like me on this earth is my favorite cousin, who, happily for me, also makes his home in the City I love, San Francisco.

We are not alike in every way. I was born and raised in SF, and wish to stay here for much of my life, while he grew up as an army brat, and spent much of his childhood in Europe, moving when his father was transferred between Italy and Germany. His parents ultimately called Ohio home, but it didn't suit my cousin, who moved to San Francisco to enjoy his adult life in a much different environment from what the Midwest had available. (He finds the entire idea of me bumping into people I attended elementary school with amusing, with comments like, "that's right - you didn't LEAVE!")

My cousin is older than I am - I was still a teen when I would visit him and his partner at their home on Halloween to carve pumpkins.

He is a man.

When people attempt to guess our ethnic backgrounds, without fail they tend to identify my cousin as black and me as white, even though we are both multi-racial. My cousin is just capable of showing off his skin pigment in a way that I have never been able to manage.

But aside from those things, we are remarkably alike. So alike, that I want to keep a list of the many things we have in common, since more and more of them keep coming up, and I'd like to have a record of this fun list, which I can add to from time to time. Asterisks represent something that, to our knowledge, is not represented among other near relatives on our father's side.

Some of the things we have in common may not strike you as being especially unusual. But you haven't actually met our families and seen us in that context. The idea of naturally Buddhist vegetarian people among the collective pool of our relations (should you be lucky enough to know them, and hear them cackle powerfully in the night) is not probable. At all. The odds are staggering, really.

This list will grow, when I pay it some attention.

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last updated december 10, 2007

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