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Comic: What does it mean to be the American cousin?

Drawing of a woman saying "prima"
(Michelle Perez / For De Los )
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My mother once said that in moving from Venezuela, she knew she was giving up the experience of her kids growing up surrounded by family and culture, the way she did. But the last few years have reunited us in ways we couldn’t have imagined. And I’m grateful to get to grow up with mis primos now.

Being the American cousin, my connection to where we come from has largely been through snapshots.
Each member of our family shaped in my mind by collages of memory and myth.
Over the time we grew up apart, I've noticed the gaps form and expand in between those snapshots.
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As the family core has steadily splintered off across countries, we've been able to find out way back to each other.
Now looking back at those old photos I can see how close we've become and how far you've gone.
What it's taken to be here, and what's been left behind
I can't help but think about the settings of those stories.
What would it mean to go back, without us all there?
I know I can't dwell in the place for long
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because all in all, I'm so grateful to be here with you.

Michelle Perez is a Rhode Island-based illustrator. Raised by Venezuelan immigrants, she grew up across the United States and she grounds her sense of self in the stories of her childhood, and those that inspire her illustrations.

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