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.
- I even discovered that I had a new cousin, Darren, who was Crystal’s brother. [↩]
That’s so neat, especially the tea. Wish I had more contact with any family to discover more of that kind of innate thing… but all so far away.
There is one genetic trait I seem to have landed; my mother used to complain that my dad could build just about anything, but it was never a finesse job; always just functional & a bit clunky. (But they were done quickly!) She couldn’t convey to him the difference, and upon seeing his finished things she was always stuck between being grateful and holding her tongue about the rest.
In theater, my skills in theater were a blend of them. If delicate up-close work was necessary, I always had to catch myself and be super careful, it didn’t come easy, but I heard my Mom in my head. The objects I did best on were Dad-like: dramatic, big, and safe viewing at 20 paces (about theater proscenium distance).
It’s actually the fact that I don’t have contact with this family often that made the realization of our similarities all the most stark. Otherwise, I think I would have grown accustomed to them.