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The old days (how Mark became my cousin)

My Spanish wasn't very good. In fact, I somehow forgot that I would need Spanish. The only book I could find that seemed like it would help me learn was a bilingual Neruda. I got pretty good at naming body parts & talking about death, but not at asking for directions. So when people assumed that of course a young woman would be traveling with a male relative, I said, No, we're friends. And they would light up: Oh, we're very liberal. No no. We go to the university together 10 years ago, I more or less said, since anything but present tense was way beyond me. Finally, I just started calling him mi primo, my cousin, & that was all we needed. And you know what, it was true. Mark was the first of my many courtesy cousins, who are family without being related. All my friends don't become cousins—it's a relationship that comes along with a friendship & just feels right. 

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