Genealogy 201

Yesterday a few friends and I got together for a surprise Welcome-Back-to-Boston party for a friend of ours who is studying for her PhD in Psychology in Lawrence, Kansas 9 months out of the year. We had a picture of her blown up to (just under) poster size and we wrote down speech bubbles of what we thought represented her most common statements. Those went something along the lines of these:

-I brought vegetables!

-Dr. Who is on!

-Ru Paul is a pronoun!

And so on. 

In the midst of the party, Ash realizes that she’s left her mail on the table, to include a package from Ancestry.com. It turns out she’s planning on doing some genealogical testing herself. “It’s just so I know which ethnic groups I can officially make fun of,” she says. “I don’t want to know the health side of it; I’d lie awake wondering, ‘is this the cancer? Is it happening now? It’s happening now.’” Mary has already had the test it seems—she’s quick to warn Ash that she can’t eat or drink anything 30 minutes before the DNA extraction. 

Nora, the psychology student, jumps in; “DNA extraction?”

Ash shrugs and says, “Just a lot of spitting. It’s okay Nora. I can make more DNA later."

So I tell them that I’ve done it too, and I’m waiting to hear back on the results. Nora wonders if it’ll come back as partially Jewish. Mary tells me about her Irish ancestry, which is why—she states—she can’t run a marathon without her cheeks turning bright red and people asking her if she’s had too much to drink by the time she reaches the finish line. Ash, who is Lebanese by way of Uruguay, flips her blonde curls over her shoulders and pushes her white sangria away from her and muffles a joke about the test coming up positive for Irish ancestry if there’s too much alcohol in a DNA sample. 

Party banter aside though, I was completely and pleasantly surprised to see that my friends were getting tested too. It’s not a necessity. (I grappled with that fact for a while.) I hadn’t brought it up to them before. The only other person I knew who had been tested runs in a different friendship circle, and he lamented the fact that his came back as almost exclusively and puritanically Northern European. 

There is a moment in which a certain euphoric feeling that only lasts for a few seconds exists when you discover that you’re a part of the zeitgeist. When you belong without having to prove that you belong. 

And in that moment, you pass out blissfully on someone else’s couch because you’ve been doing too much.