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The Distance Between Us This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

Distances can be suffocating. Do you know how long it takes to walk from my house to the pool? Thirty minutes. Thirty long, hot minutes. Do you know how long it takes to drive into the city from my house? Seventy-two minutes. Twenty-one of those are typically spent on the Southern State Parkway. Do you know how long it takes to fly to Australia from my home? Twenty-three hours. TWENTY-THREE HOURS. Time can suffocate you too. So can the price of a flight to Australia. Or a plastic bag.
I remember reading this National Geographic ­article about how since there are over seven billion people in the world, there may be someone just like you somewhere. The Earth is so big that there is bound to be a repeat. A repeat of you.
And distances, while being suffocating, can be ­exciting. They can spark curiosity, adventure, and interest. Distance can help us become individuals. With distance we can come up with our own solutions to universal problems. Distance breeds differences – which is maybe why she intrigued me so much.
Recently my cousin Sarah, who lives in Australia, added me on Facebook.
Did I know she existed? Yes. But did I know her? No. Did I know her birthday? Favorite color? Singer? Interests? No, no, no, and no. Did I even think about her before the age of Facebook? Nope.
And yet, there she was, her whole life in front of me on my computer screen at 11 p.m. one summer night. Her stories. Her experiences. Her pictures. Her life. A whole life that was taking place on the other side of the planet.
It wasn't until three months later that I finally worked up the courage to contact Sarah. The whole time I was wondering what made her add me on Facebook? And then it dawned on me. She wanted to know about me just as much as I wanted to know about her. Considering we are related, she was probably over-thinking messaging me as well. So why not take the initiative of communicating?
Me: Hey
One word. That's all I had to say. That “Hey” led to a conversation, which led to another conversation, and another. Talking to my cousin started to change me as a person – how I thought about life and the world. It planted a seed of fear mixed with excitement. It dawned on me how the Earth isn't just something we study in science; the rotation and revolution of our planet isn't just a scientific fact – it's real life.
Every day, while I was living my life – the best days and the worst days – people on the other side of the world were sleeping, and vice versa. After learning how different politically, socially, economically, and geographically parts of the world were from America, I no longer saw the Earth as all the places I knew, but as all the places I didn't. I didn't see time as my time anymore; I saw it as the time in England, Australia, New Zealand. I saw it as the time difference between countries.
Talking to my cousin opened my eyes to the cultures, languages, and views of other places. (Did you know that Australians call the sidewalk a footpath?) But most importantly, talking to my cousin helped me learn how alike we are.
Besides having a similar physical appearance, my cousin and I have similar personalities and opinions. We are the same age and both have younger siblings who are the same age. Our moms work in schools, and our dads are police officers. We both have dogs, and our friends are quite similar. We are more than related through blood; we are related through words and stories, opinions and hobbies. We're practically mirror images of each other.
But back to that National Geographic article. I couldn't believe such a thing could be true – having someone someplace share so many characteristics with you. Yet, here she was, smiling back at me from my computer screen, from across the world. After sharing many laughs and many late-night conversations with my cousin, I think I found my other self.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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. said...
Jun. 22 at 7:08 pm:
This was one of my favorite things I found in the magazine! :D It's articles like these that give me wanderlust. There are so many people out there in the world, so many people to meet and connect with, living their ordinary lives as we're living ours. It's insane to think about. Glad you got in touch with your cousin! Have an awesome day (wherever YOU are), and tell her how awesome she is for inspiring such a great piece! :D
 
victoriarose612 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Sep. 13 at 9:43 am :
Thank you so much! I was skeptical with uploading this essay but I'm glad that I did!
 
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