Cousin!!

Remember this scene from Poetic Justice when the crew stopped by a Johnson Family Reunion cookout in the park. Iconic scene!!

The best part of the scene is when Tupac (Lucky) is approached by a family member named cousin Pete and pretends to be related. The scene reminded me of my cousin India and how every time we link up I’m screaming Cousin!!!. Yup I used her real name, I’ll probably get a phone call after this post.

I always will have a special place in my heart for my cousin India. Growing up with a large family on my father’s side, I have some cousins that are more than twenty years older than I am. No matter what we are still family and we definitely have the Rosie and Freddie blood flowing through our veins. I don’t remember the exact year I met India but we have a bond like no other.

I use to hear stories from my grandmother about India and the train. For a number of years, my cousin worked for Amtrak as one of the conductors. I would see pictures in my grandmother’s house of my cousin India and all of the family. In the dining room of my grandmother’s house was a wall she hung pictures from of everyone in the family whether it was military or graduation pictures. It was kind of like the hall of fame wall of the family. I would stare at the wall for hours in amazement at all the accomplishments of those before me. My grandmothers had space in the living room where she kept pictures of all the grandkids. I would see pictures of all of my cousins from baby pictures to high school graduation photos. One particular picture that I always looked for was the train picture with India in it. The picture not only showed me that fun she had but it showed me how diverse the family is.

Take a look at your family for a second and ask yourself do you have a family member that worked as a conductor. It doesn’t have to be a conductor but it could be a scientist, a doctor, or something that stands out. India has always been a free-spirited person to be. She says what she feels, keeps her word, and can a throw one heck of an event. My cousin is a visionary and I love that about her. The summer of 2005, I spend the summer in New Jersey staying with my Aunt Linda and India. When I wasn’t working I would kick it over India’s house on the weekends. I remember we were in the backyard and she starts to tell me what she wanted to do with the house. She goes into detail of what type of back porch she wants, the hammock she wanted to have and even the fire pit setup. The woman was so detailed I could picture it in my head. She would always tell me if I set my mind to something to keep striving until you achieve it. Over the summer of 2005, we had real conversations about life and EVERYTHING that goes along with it. I capitalized that for a reason. A lot of those talks helped me push through my last year of undergrad when I wanted to give up. A lot of things happened my senior year while attending JC Smith while became huge obstacles to overcome. I remember that I was drained physically, mentally and emotionally that I called her to ask for help. We talked a bit and I pushed through to graduation. I remember that India wanted to come to my graduation but couldn’t do she sent me a graduation gift. Let’s just say it was right on time!! Fast forward six months later and I had moved back home to my mom’s house. I was sitting on the computer and suddenly the phone rang. It was India.

That was the most uncomfortable but loving phone call in my life. I really don’t know how she knew that I had moved back home but she put some fire up under my butt. You know everyone has that cousin that is a firecracker! India has a way with words that she can articulate things to get anyone to make a move. Basically, I had become depressed by not finding a job after I graduated and decided to move back home.

Side note: To those in school getting ready to graduate soon make sure to use your internships to your advantage. If you do a great job as an intern without getting paid your work will show the company how valuable you are and they will be the first to hire you. It’s all about relationships in the real world.

I got my ”ish” together over the next year and was able to make some moves by obtaining a job and my first apartment on my own. I finally was able to connect back with India on a family vacation at Disney World. This was a family adventure that I will write about another time. India and I took a walk around the property the night before we left and had a heart to heart with me. Do you ever have that cousin that gets you! Well, India understands all the anger, the sadness, frustration and pain that happened the years prior. I still don’t know how she is the only one that can talk and get through to Lewis. That’s a gift (Inside family joke).

I wrote this letter to India and wanted to share.

Dear India,

I wanted to write you this letter right after the last time I saw you. I want to let you know how proud I am of you. It takes confidence and boldness to do the things that I’ve seen you do. I am very grateful for you being in my life. I hold you dear to my heart just for who you are. Thank you for being beside me at grandmas funeral. I never would have been able to complete my remarks because of all the emotions I had running throughout my mind that day. You were able to keep me calm to finish my words. Ever since I can remember you always been that cousin to keep it 100 with me. No matter how long it has been since we talk, we pick up as if we just talked last week. I’m proud of how you have raised my two little cousins up into a grown woman and a soon to be a grown man. I appreciate you pushing me to be better especially at being a better man. You have taught me to travel the world and experience different things. You have shown me that’s it’s ok to travel away to keep your sanity. So many things I experienced with you, my first old head club of 30 and up, my first legal drink, my first bottle pop of wine, and first-hand experience how to love family from a distance. Recently I learned that sometimes you have to be the bigger person because, in the end, it helps to release what’s been bottled up inside. Every time you have taken the podium to speak at different events I’m proud to say That’s My Cousin! I love you to the stars above and just know I got your back.

Love you always!!!

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