If you don’t know how much I love my cousins, you don’t know me at all. Sometimes my cousins don’t know how much I love them, but they don’t know me completely either. People (in general) expect you to be just like them, especially when you’re “supposed” to be: if you’ve shared the same culture, upbringing, etc. The more you have in common on the surface, the more we assume we have in common when it comes to world views, values and methods of thinking. Then, even when we do have the same values, there is a still a chance we’ll go about things in different ways. 
             My cousins are my brother. I mean that quite literally. My brother was the eldest of us, being 11 years my senior. My brother was fun. He was respectable, a gentleman, had an amazing smile and could make anyone laugh. I do this thing when I laugh (if I laugh real good) where my tongue rolls… well, I used to. No one can make me laugh like my brother did especially when he would tickle me, hard. My brother was my exact opposite. Me as a guy. I was just him as a girl. When I was 10, I quit ballet and started playing basketball –partially because I liked it better & partially because it was something I could do with my brother. My brother treated me like a princess and he treated whores like whores: Make you feel pretty, but how much do you derseve really? (He loved him a stripper tho lol) He taught me everything I need to know about men and their relation with women. I had a father for 9 months but he passed in a car accident about a half a mile from my house. 1989 was a tough year for my family, but I can’t quite remember it. 1993 was worse. There’s this little kid’s book called, “The Night Dad Went to Jail.” They haven’t made one about Mom yet, but when a mother leaves the family, it’s most likely it falls apart –even if it doesn’t and especially if Dad doesn’t exist. For two years, I had a mom, a brother and a sister… somewhere. I lived with a stranger in my own home. My best friend was a Black lab. I missed my brother most because he was the one who never wrote…

     I was dead for four years. I started ELLATHOUGHT.com on July 24th, 2010. (Click here to read my first post). My brother’s birthday, 4 years after he passed. On August 14th, 2006, I had died alive. I think that’s why I don’t fear anything. When you lose someone who’s never supposed to leave your side, the world turns into a haze. The days pass in a blur. The moments between when you found out and then watch people walk away smiling and chatting when that person lay motionless in a pit, buried with flowers from friends, fans, enemies and whores… all those moments run together. You can’t recall sleeping or waking. Even breathing is a burden because consciousness means memories and for me, memories meant regrets. The summer my brother passed, I was “living” with a boyfriend. I’d only go home to do laundry. I hated being home. Mostly because my bother was overprotective and I didn’t know who my mother was. When you learn to manage and care for yourself, it’s extremely difficult to allow someone else to come in and give orders. It’s probably harder to come home to that, though. 
         I didn’t meet my cousins until I was 10. I remember because Jay was 11 and he told me a talk like a white girl. I just didn’t curse so much & I pronounced whole words (and always will). My mom told me recently that she stayed away from her family because she was embarrassed. Sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to make it –and not everyone will understand that. But… tough times came back around & my mom lived with my Uncle Marino for a bit, which is when/where I got back in touch with my true family.  As we grew up, anyone 18+ could roll with my brother and do what guys do –my guess is women & my brother loved strippers lmfao. I used to sing T-Pain’s “I’m in love with a stippppppeerrr” to him and laugh while I dodged whatever he picked up and threw at me. The younger guys would hang with me. Manny was too young to got to the underage club with me (yup, I been clubbing since 15 lol), but… he and I share an amazing connection. He’d stay up all night with me, keeping my secrets. 
         My cousins let me live. The day after Enver passed, Jay, Manny (and maybe Harold –sorry I can only remember but so much) went for a walk with me & Diamond. My brother had the most beautiful blue-nosed pit-bull anyone’s ever seen. & she had an amazing soul. At the funeral, I caught myself in the other room with them, laughing. It was the most terrible, amazing feeling I’ve ever felt. It was that moment that I realized that I was still alive but didn’t want to be. Circumstances I’ll touch on some other time made me realize that until the day I die, I’ll always be alive –no matter if I don’t want to be. So… I better take advantage of it. 
       Finally.” I think all of my cousins said that to me when they found out I’d be moving to New York. I think they had in mind that I would live next door and spend more time than usual but… it’s kind of the same as it always was. It’s not just them who feel this way. It happens where ever I go. It’s tough to decide what/who is more “important” when you’re planning your day to day and even tougher when you’re traveling. I’m not one of those people who visits. I like to be in my house. I like to be alone. I don’t like to move around so much and, actually, crowds make me uncomfortable after a while. I feel like I’m too considerate, so I end up ignoring everyone. It sometimes feels like, if you choose to spend time with one person, someone else feels like that means you chose not to spend time with them. I simply don’t have enough time in my days. 
     After all is said and done, few people take into consideration the time we need for ourselves. Granted, I’m single and I’m young. I should be driving from state to state to visit friends so we can get f*cked up at the nearest nightclub, but I manage my life in a very particular fashion. I always do what I need to do when I feel I need to do it. For example, some people thought it best to study non-stop in college. I found it best to party non-stop. Not to say that didn’t have it’s drawbacks (finishing a semester with 5 F’s and an A in Creative Writing being a true testament to what I cared about). I partied everyday except Sunday and Tuesday. I never really stopped, I just switched the bullshit out for actual work -got my grades back up and directed the most influential and atmosphere changing fashion show Loyola College had seen in my time (in my humble opinion). I had partied enough to get my social media guru on, raping Facebook to the 4,000 friend max, and  gotten myself into the industry I’ve always wanted to be in. If you ever wonder how I landed my job at Calvin Klein. Half the story is I met my boss at my sister’s birthday party where all I did was follow orders (also known as “help out”) –he was able to see my work ethic first-hand and now I work directly under him. The other half is that I deserve every blessing I’ve received. I’ve busted my ass.
You remember some conversations forever. I once discussed life choices with Jay & Kikito –I had gone to a four-year school, Jay mastered a trade and Kiko worked. We’d made very different choices and have faced very different circumstances, but we all stood there understanding and respecting one another. Everyone’s life is their own. At the end of the day, you just have to hope and pray for each other. We can’t all be on the same path, there just isn’t enough room and all the best roads are narrow.

       People think that I ignore them, but they just don’t understand the position they fall into in my life. Problem is, if I explained that position, they may not understand and get upset. My mom is #1. Duchess is #2. I’m #3. But those three switch out depending on what’s going on, because I’ve got to put myself first most times. My sister and her husband come in at #4 as a duo. The family that loved me comes in as #5. The family that pretends to comes in at #6. Good friends #7. #Friends #8. Everybody else is lumped together at #9.  I don’t feel bad about the list because other people have other priorities, too. It’s just when they realize they’re not number one on your list that they get upset –whole while, you’re swimming in a pool of everybody else.
      The reason family is first is because “family” is all relative. It’s like those stickers on people’s windshields. Some people consider anyone who’s ever slept with their third cousin a family member, but my true family is my mom and Duchess. They’re the only people I have. They only people who think about me all day. My sister used to be my family,  but now that she’s married, she has her own –as does everyone else. It’s the same reason I don’t really want to have friends. When all of those “friends” grow up and have spouses and children of their own, you fall lower and lower on their lists –as you should. When I get married and have children, you can consider my first-born’s date of birth an official “f*ck you,” because I’m not going to care about much outside of my four walls. It’s the way I’ve planned to be. While others move differently, that’ll be me. I don’t think I’m a “girl’s night” kind of person. I see people when I should –birthdays, holidays, etc. For the rest of the time, I’m busy taking care of my life. I live everyday. If I need to be in your face for you to know that I love you, you must not understand love. I’ll still love you, but I’m not going to go out of my way to show you something you refuse to see for what it is. Can I get a little recognition?

       My cousins make me feel terrible and amazing. They always want to see me. They always check in. They’re my best friends after my mother. They’re also all my brothers. They partially check in because they’ve been programmed to take care of me (my brother hated the idea of my having a boyfriend and they agreed. Jerks. smh), taking me on as a responsibility. When I walk into where ever they are, I get hugs like no one else hugs me. I also get put on the spot for not coming around. One thing about my family is they’ll say something, please believe. I know when I’ve been gone for too long. But they’ll coming looking for me. It’s also a reason I don’t do much visiting to friends –if I haven’t had the chance to see my family, why would you think I’m going to make trips to sit in a stranger’s house? You’ve got to understand where to place people in your life by understanding where they place you. Family is first because family is always family. A friend can be your friend today and your enemy tomorrow. Family doesn’t really change, even if it does. You can count on family… but you shouldn’t depend on them. You can lean on family, but you shouldn’t abuse them. People take family for the wrong things. I want my family to just love me. Miles away… so that if I ever wonder… I know who loves me. I know who has my back. 
     Most importantly, my family teaches me how I should be treated. I’ve always hung out with the guys. I was a little bit of a tomboy, but we’re Dominican. It doesn’t matter how well I play a sport, I’m still a woman. They know that. My aunts expect me to have a boyfriend and ask me every time I see them. My cousins let me come out with nothing but lip gloss & car keys. & anybody who deals with me is required to show the same respect. Mann…. I love my fam. Someday I’ll get to a point where I can truly enjoy (and treat) them like I want to… for now… #NoDaysOff