The foreign friend said "Sure, but I don't really know them. They're just cousins, so you know... not really family."
I was left thinking of a cousin I hadn't been in touch with for 10 years, but made a point of meeting on this trip, though it was not convenient or economical. She was equally happy that I did. Another, who I've never had a chance to get to know, took the time to do so now, over a whole day in Boston. A third cousin worked till three in the morning so she could spend the day with me. A fourth and a fifth are annoyed with me because I didn't go to see them - but I will be back to do so.
And I see most clearly the face of a sixth cousin, waiting at the airport in spite of having a two-day-old baby at home. This was so not a convenient time to have a house guest, but his smile was unshadowed by this concern. Because I was not a house guest, I was a cousin.
I think also of the warm welcome from a friend after 14 years, of another, who's suffering the burden of working from home while entertaining me for a whole week. And a third who crossed the line from friend to family a long time ago.
At the risk of sounding like Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show, it seems that every stop I've made was a blessing counted.
The large American deserves commendation for bringing this to my attention, because I can get a bit ungrateful and frazzled when I've spent too much time with people. Very ungrateful and frazzled, actually.
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