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When my parents moved to the U.S., I began spending more time with my dad's brother's kids.

These cousins had always been intertwined between me and my siblings. First there was me, I was the oldest. Then cousin B. He was the oldest in his family. I remember he always used to say "I'm the biggest" and I would counter "Well, I'm the oldest", for as a child, being the one who has the most years is a privelage. Our parents would laugh, saying someday I maybe wouldn't be so proud of that fact.

Today, I'm not yet uncomfortable being the oldest but B is definitely still the biggest.

After him comes my sister C. Then his brother M. Then my sister H. Then their sister E. Finally, my brother R falls in line at the end.

When we were little, we have been told we played a lot together. We were always making up skits and air bands to then preform to our parents.

One could say, looking back nostaligically, it was a bit of an extention of siblings. Although, ones you didn't see very often.

We travelled to see them when they lived in Calgary. Then when they moved to North Bay. We also spent a picturesque holiday visiting our grandparents in Nova Scotia. The whole family. One big clan. We have the picture to prove it.

It wasn't until I was working in the same city where they lived that we really became closer as young adults.

I was 21 at the time. B and I would go drinking together. Talk about our families, the craziness that only relations can appreciate, and go on about how our friendship had grown, from young kids to semi-grownups ( I use that word loosely. I would say I'm hardly a grownup right now ).

Our growing frienships - those between my cousins and I, my siblings and my cousins - showed their true colours when B got married a couple of years ago. All 7 of us took to the dance floor for the entire evening, marvelling people along the sidelines. Many knew of the outgoing nature of all 3 of my cousins - they didn't realize there were 4 more of us.

Even though the time we spent as children was not high quantity, we have all managed to be very similiar and different in many of the same ways.

Perhaps we are tight knit because my dad only has one brother. And, as they age, my cousins, siblings and are are always rolling our eyes and laughing about how much they are looking alike - acting alike and most likely thinking alike.

This week, my cousin M has come to stay. Him and his buddies have been touring Europe and near the end of their trip, have chosen to visit Belfast and the beautiful scenery of the North coast.

M and I spend yesterday in the small town where my grandma grew up, visiting old aunts that used to look after our grandfather when he was small.

It was a surreal day and an eye opener. On the one hand, it was nice to finally see this small town where she grew up. On the other, it was also great to spend it with M, laughing at family jokes, taking goofy pictures and learning about "our roots".

And I don't think I would have enjoyed it half as much if I didn't get to experience it with him.

It feels strange to me that he will be home in a week, telling everyone of his adventures, specifically the family ones in the North.

I wish I could be there when he tries to explain what our heritage is really like.

And we both agreed we "get" our grandma much more then we used to.


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