When I was young, my dad had a fight with his brother over open­ing a con­ve­nience store next to a phar­macy (my uncle is a phar­ma­cist) in a plaza that my grand­mother owned. Both types of stores have lots of com­pet­ing prod­ucts, so the argu­ment was about who would be the one to open their store. I guess my dad won, because he bought the con­ve­nience store and ran it for quite a few years.

After that, I didn’t see my uncle or his fam­ily at all. For so long that I com­pletely for­got that I had a cousin, Crystal.

When my grand­mother came from Hong Kong to visit one year, she reunited the fam­i­lies again, and I saw them for the first time in a long while1.

At that time, the pop­u­lar thing to do was play cards. I had the rep­u­ta­tion as being the fastest, most dex­ter­ous dealer out of all the kids. But when I went over to my uncle’s house one day and we were play­ing Asshole, I noticed Crystal deal­ing exactly the same way I did, except faster, with­out even pay­ing attention.

It was at that point that I real­ized, “This per­son is my family”.

The only other time I had such a stark real­iza­tion was dur­ing my trip to Hong Kong ear­lier this year. At an inter­na­tional buf­fet, we grabbed some dessert from the cart and ordered some tea. My uncle, aunt (both sib­lings of my dad), and I were sit­ting at the table, with deli­cious pas­tries in front of us, but none of us were touch­ing them. When some­one asked my uncle why he wasn’t eat­ing his dessert yet, he said that he has to have tea with his sweets. And it turns out that was the exact same rea­son me and my aunt were wait­ing too. One of these lit­tle quirks that one never expects some­one else to have, and some­times we’re even ridiculed for it, and yet here we were, three peo­ple doing the exact same thing for the exact same reason.

I gen­er­ally believe that humans are more likely a prod­uct of their expe­ri­ences, with a touch of inher­ited qual­i­ties too. After all, I’m almost noth­ing like either of my par­ents. It was only these two expe­ri­ences that made me admit that there’s a lit­tle more of us that’s inher­ited, that we’re a prod­uct of our genes, than I would have believed.

  1. I even dis­cov­ered that I had a new cousin, Darren, who was Crystal’s brother. []