Sometimes in this crazy mixed up life, you find a friend that becomes such a good friend, they actually become family. And that is a beautiful gift, truly.
And then sometimes you have a blood relative who, over time, becomes one of your very best friends.
I'm referring to a cousin on my mom's side of the family. We met when I was seven and I think he was ten. We were simpatico from the start, sharing a similar outlook on the world.
Back then without the benefit of the internet, we were steadfast pen pals, writing pages and pages to each other about our thoughts, our dreams and of course our drama.
Over time, we graduated to email. Buckets and buckets of bits flying back and forth over the internet, keeping us connected, providing laughs, and that invaluable sort of knowledge that someone out there in the world understands.
He was there at my wedding. A year later, I was there when he staged the musical he'd written (both book and music) and produced.
We'd both helped each other get to our own day of celebration, and it was unthinkable to not be there for the other.
Anyhow, it’s a very cool friendship. Over the weekend, we got to spend some time as my cousin is paying a visit to the Bay Area.
We took off on Friday headed for the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
My mom was raised in Oregon, so once a year or so, she'd take us to visit family in Oregon, and that always included a trip to the Oregon coast.
My cousin and I bonded over years of trips to the beach, so going to the aquarium seemed utterly natural.
One of my favorite exhibits at the aquarium is the otters. I adore the otters and could stand at their tank for *hours*.
What I love is that around my cousin I can be totally ridiculous and immature. In fact, I can even revert to childhood.
So as we stood there watching an otter zip around the tank, every time the rambunctious otter swam right in front of the glass, just inches away from me, I'd utter a childlike "hi!"
Round and round. "Hi!" and "hi!"
And my cousin laughed every time.
I didn't even feel self-conscious.
Then we got to the huge tank in the Outer Bay exhibit. When I dropped to the floor on my knees (like all the other little kids) to watch the show, he plunked down next to me with a "wooooow" (it really is a spectacular sight).
We giggled at seahorses, we petted bat rays in the touching tank (the bat rays loved my cousin), and we wooowed at the giant jellies.
Man it was a great day!
Ah to be a kid again. There are only a few people in the world who can make that feel safe for me (The Good Man is one of them).
And that just might be the meaning of life.
(loved the seahorses!)