Hello.

Capturing moments. Sharing adventures.

Los Angeles native. Tennessee transplant. 

The day I found out I am not my boyfriend's cousin

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It was a Sunday morning. Matt and I had taken the Ancestry DNA test approximately eight weeks beforehand. It was probably our most romantic date yet: watching each other struggle to spit into test tubes (sidenote: way more difficult to do than you might think), package it up, and send it off to the lab.

And then we waited...

Matt would make this joke when we started dating. This "what if we were cousins?" joke. I guess he had some Kleinman in his family somewhere. I personally haven't done as much family research as he had, so I couldn't say for sure. But I knew that a lot of my family on both sides came from Lithuania. So it didn't seem very likely.

When he first said it, I laughed. And then he said it several more times, and I started becoming a little worried. Like wouldn't that be a story? What a quick transition in our relationship that would have been — boyfriend and girlfriend to already family. 

I forgot about it for awhile. 

And then the opportunity came to get Ancestry DNA kits, find out about our family history, and officially confirm whether or not we were related. Ignorance is not bliss sometimes.

{8 weeks later}

I received the email. Saw the results. Scanned to see if Matt was one of my long distant cousins, and HURRAY we are not! At least from what I can tell. We finally had the sweet relief of knowing for sure we were not related. 

It was a short-lived joy though to what I found out next. 

You see, my entire life, I've identified as Italian. My grandma was born in Italy and so was my mom. But I knew my grandpa was American. The way I did my math though, that made me 25% Italian right? 

I took that Italian heritage and ran with it to Italy on a program in high school, and then a study abroad in college. I thought it was cool that I could learn more about the culture my grandma grew up in. And while all that is still valid — my grandma did grow up in Italy — DNA-speaking, I am 5% Italian/Greece. FIVE PERCENT.

And to top it off — guess who has more Italian/Greek DNA heritage? MATT. The guy who never once mentioned any Italian relations. Mostly because he never knew. He has 15%!

So now it's this fun new joke. I don't know if I'd rather have the old one though... 

Either way, getting back these results was pretty incredible. If anything, it was something that I had the opportunity to share with my family and was something that connects all of us more. To know that I'm 69% Eastern European, and 12% European Jewish was interesting, and not completely unexpected, but it feels more real now to know that part of my ancestry and heritage is embedded in my DNA. It makes me feel closer to those I never met.

Family history work is something the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints really encourages. I really had never thought much about it except for the family trees we'd occasionally do in school growing up and that really extended just to my great-grandparents, if that. 

I'm really grateful that there are free resources such as the Family Search website, and more extensive — although sometimes requiring payment — resources like Ancestry, among others, to discover more about our heritage and the lives we may never have met personally, but who's choices affected where we are today.

And on another note, to celebrate that 5% Italian heritage, I went to Nashville's Italian Lights Festival this past Saturday and stomped some grapes for the first time and then memorialized it with my footprints on a t-shirt. I also drank soda that stained my tongue a cherry red, AND got an peach popsicle. 

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Nashville: The Frist Exhibit is "Bellissima!" and I don't even care that much about cars

Nashville: The Frist Exhibit is "Bellissima!" and I don't even care that much about cars

Franklin: Charlie Haffner Memorial Shooting Range aka Where I shot my first gun

Franklin: Charlie Haffner Memorial Shooting Range aka Where I shot my first gun