We Are America

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Photo ofCindy Rangel

When I was ten-years-old, I lived with my dad in Glendale Heights. I had a cousin named Lily who I thought was really annoying - I mean, she is a whole two weeks younger than me. My dad’s side of  the family doesn’t really have many cousins for me to be close with, because they were mostly older or younger than me. But Lily, she always wanted to be with me. She was attached to me, but the feelings were not mutual. We would be at family gatherings and Lily was always there. My options of who to play withwere limited, because there were mostly adults there. Eventually I realized that she might be the only cousin I got along with, and I was really bored with talking to adults.  At one of these gatherings, Lily said, “Do you want to play some thing?” I responded in a soft voice. “Like what?”.  Keep in mind we were in a little mobile home that was basically the size of a shoebox. There wasn’t much to do or space to do it. The house was packed and we couldn’t run around and play tag or our parents would get mad.  She kept bugging me. “What do you want to do?” I said, “I don’t know.”  I was the kind of girl who preferred to chill and eat some chips while watch- ing my favorite show on YouTube, not really the creative out-of-the-box thinker with an outgoing personality that Lily was. Lily was a goofy and crazy girl. She always liked to have fun and goof around. That is one of the reasons why I thought she was annoying. She could be impatient, and if she got bored, she wouldn’t shut up, talking nonstop like the energizer bunny. I almost felt bad because we were both so bored, and I didn’t feel like I could solve the problem because I was okay just laying around not talking to any- one. But not Lily; she always needed to be doing something or talking to someone. I think it was our different personalities that eventually brought us together. We would go golfing, swimming at the pool, to the movies, to play at the park, and for long walks with my dog. Before long, Lily and I had become close.  Just as we had started to have a great relationship, a family problem occurred. Lily’s mom started to have an inappropriate relationship that the rest of the family didn’t approve of. This tore our family apart, and I wasn’t able to see Lily for two years. I missed being with Lily and her silliness. At family parties I was back to sitting around talking with adults, or playing with my much younger brother. It wasn’t the same without Lily. After we reunited, she didn’t seem the same as she used to, meaning she wasn’t as close to me anymore; it was actually the opposite. I had missed her and wanted to spend more time with her, but she seemed different. I felt lonely at the family gatherings when she wasn’t there. Now, I realize that I should not have been like that with her. I should not have been so annoyed by her; I should have had patience. I wish I would have played with her more back then instead of being a lazy girl. I should have enjoyed my childhood and my cousins. Even though our families weren’t speaking, I should have kept in contact through Snapchat or just called her once in a while since she had her own phone. I learned that I should avoid family problems, and that one family problem shouldn’t stop me from enjoying the rest of my family members. 

© Cindy Rangel. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person’s teacher.