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Especially since it’s their particular orphanage/sweatshop/Great Depression struggle that has led to my ridiculously pleasant life.

And as happy as I am that I at least scratched the surface of learning who these people were, I’m now sad about all of these other gray people: All of this has gotten me thinking about genealogy and how fascinating it is as a concept.

The simplest way to think about it is that every stranger in the world is a cousin of yours, and the only question is how distant a cousin they are.

The degree of cousin (first, second, etc.) is just a way of referring to how far you have to go back before you get to a common ancestor.

With a concept called , which is what happens when people end up with a mate who is somewhat or very closely related to them.

So for example, if two cousins had a child, that child would only have six great-grandparents, not eight.

So in this frenzy of procreation we’re all a part of, what’s the deal with our relation to the other people on this Earth today?I learned a ton about my four paternal great-grandparents—again, I had known the basic info about them, but it was the details that for the first time made them real people.Three of them grew up in rough New York orphanages—the fourth left everything she knew in Latvia in her mid-teens and took a boat alone across the Atlantic, arriving in New York to work in a sweatshop.The craziest thing to me is that this diagram, which only represents the last 200 years of your ancestry, contains 127 romantic relationships, each involving at least one critical sex moment and most of them probably involving deep love.You’re the product of 127 romances, just in the last 200 years alone.

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