My cousin Chris

I’ve only shared about two conversations in my life with Chris — the last of which was about seven years ago — owing to the fact that we live on opposite coasts of the country. But Darren and I recognized him as one of us: someone who thinks for himself and doesn’t buy into the whole Chinese culture unquestioningly. This is in contrast to many of our other cousins, who seem to love their parents simply because they were birthed by them, not necessarily because their parents are good people.

Chris happened to be passing by for a wedding, so I hosted him for two days. It was interesting to meet him at this point in our lives. I wonder if I’m actually more similar to Chris than I am to Darren, mainly because of how our creativity defines us. It was so easy for me to relate and talk to him. And as with Darren, I actually felt like Chris was family, closer to a brother than a cousin, which is all too rare among my blood.

As an industrial designer he does amazing drawings, full of vibrant colours that pop-off the page. I asked him to draw something on my dry erase board because drawing is a creative ability not in my possession, and I find the process fascinating. It was a logistical challenge because he would smear his existing work every time he rested his hand on the board for stability.

He’s my exact opposite when it comes to health. He’s a vegan, while I’d find it impossible to give up meat, let alone butter and ice cream. He just literally biked 100km a day across Canada, while my lifestyle could be considered sedentary at best, with only Tai Chi and some mild calisthenics in my exercise routine. And yet we’re the same weight and shape. It’s sort of eerie to see him drawing in this video; aside from a shorter haircut, it’s almost like I’m watching myself.

The time he spent here passed quickly, as I introduced him to the ukulele. Aside from catching up and learning about each other, most of the two days were spent experimenting and playing together. Eventually, we went to a music store and bought him his own Mahalo ukulele, which filled my heart with glee. Darren and Jeff are coming up for a visit next week, and hopefully Chris will be able to hitch a ride with them for our ukulele band before we all head back to Toronto for Crystal’s wedding.

3 comments

  1. He must have drawn these figures a bunch of times! I never understood cartooning drawing…. where it comes from inside someone…. I can only draw what’s in front of me, and not without a lot of thinking and adjusting. It’s work for me. Cartoonists have something so whimsical in mind and yet they’re so very exacting.

    it is funny how all of my Chinese friends fall into your category of “us”-ness. The individual-thinking ones (perhaps more a western concept). I have never stayed friends long with the other Asians who have that direct unquestioning obedience in their background.

    I’m lobbying for a uke duet!

    • I’m not sure if he practiced, but he did ask him to give him a few minutes to figure out what he was going to draw, so I don’t think he practiced very much. I can’t even draw what’s in front of me; not only do I lack the dexterity, I’m terrible with proportion and perspective.

      I’ve been friends with both the unquestioning and questioning types, but I definitely feel more kinship with the latter, just because I relate more to their sense of identity (or lack thereof).

      • Proportion and perspective are learned skills — but they’re like certain math classes…. you may… or may never use them : )

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