by Jenn Archuleta
“Green. But it looks really good!”
“Yeah, but don’t worry, I can fix it.”
This is not the conversation you want to have with a girlfriend who has tasked you with coloring her hair. Unless, of course, she wanted green. Which was not the case.
In any regular friendship, this is where the dyee cries and curses the dyer for ruining her hair. Lucky for me, the dyee in question was my fifteen year old cousin, I’ll call her Stella. There were no tears or curses, just a pondering in the mirror and an eventual “Mom’s going to kill us,” to which I replied, “That’s okay, I have power of attorney over you until Sunday.”
Last week I had the pleasure of having Stella visit for four days. She lives in Colorado Springs where she moved with her mother and brother when she was nine. From that time on she and I have been great friends. We both love to read, play string instruments and have the same sense of humor. I like her because she gets me.
Family is very important to me and all the more because my extended family seems to be shrinking over time as people have their own families and move away or as they get older and cannot do what they once could. I grew up with cousins all around me, even living with a cousin in college. When Stella’s mom moved back to Colorado Springs with her family it was like a gift to me. Her mom had been like a sister to me growing up and when she came back, she came with two great kids. Two more cousins for me!
When I told people my young cousin was coming to visit they asked me, “What are you going to do with a fifteen year old girl?” The notion of spending four days with a teenager was lost on some of my friends. But I was excited to share with her some aspects of my life here. I don’t get to see her enough and often we are relegated to comments on Facebook and catching up at holidays. Dying her hair green was unexpected but gave us a good laugh. Though we fixed it the next day, I know it will be something I remember for a long time.
There is a translation of Cicero over the doors to the CU library. It says “Who knows only his own generation remains always a child”. I was told the intention of this statement is to remind us that we must be aware of our past so that we don’t make the same mistake in our future. I prefer to think of this in a more spherical way. I think it is important to try and know all the generations, past present and future. I recommend befriending a teenaged person in general, and one who is related to you specifically. You gain perspective on the direction the world is going in, you get to laugh, you get to have those teaching moments that are so rare and you might actually learn something. But most importantly, you get to establish the foundation of a lifelong friendship with someone who has to like you. Because you’re related to them. And you can tell their mother if they don’t.