There’s been a theme lately. I’m not sure how to process it, and I’m not sure how to write about it without some kind of backlash. But I’m going to try.
(sitting here thinking about how to start)
(20 minutes pass)
I’m going to start at the beginning.. because its a very good place to start (channeling Sound Of Music).
When I was 18, I had my first almost-real boyfriend. He was gorgeous. Seriously gorgeous. We’d been going out in “secret” for about a month. Meeting in secret. Dating in secret.
Let me define secret. I hadn’t left for college yet, so I was still under the rules of my parents at home. Which meant, no dating anyone they’d not met and approved of, no socializing in ways they did approve of.. aka I really wasn’t allowed to go much of anywhere.
My friends however all knew about him. Come on, he was drop dead gorgeous and he passed them over for me.. In my town, I was considered fat and ugly. In other towns, I was gorgeous. So to land a gorgeous guy while out with my friends where the stories of my fabulousness were bound to make it back to my hometown.. Yeah, awesome!
My boyfriend lived in the next town “city” and was older… college age.. I think he was 22? I don’t recall exactly. All I knew was that he was HOT. He was sweet. He treated me well. And he made me feel like I was the most beautiful woman in the world. Not girl. Woman.
I finally talked him into going to my church with me to meet my parents. I didn’t want to subject him to actually meet “meeting” my parents with a dinner, but to meet them in passing. If you ask my friends who have met my mother during my HS and College years, they will agree.. meeting my mother in passing was the only way to do things.
He came. I could have flown around the room. I was so happy. It was the first time ever that any boy I liked met my parents. I was nervous, but I was certain they would love him.
He was perfect. Despite being physically hot, he was smart, attentive, respectful. He was in the army and getting out soon. He had a plan for his life of what he wanted to do, and he was driven. He wasn’t that spiritual, but enough that I was head over heels. I could not find any flaw in him that my parents would not have liked.
Normally if my parents saw me with some boy/girl/whomever that they didn’t know, they’d have come over right away to find out who it was and assess if that person was worthy of being around me. When they saw me with JC, they didn’t.
After church was over, JC wanted to flee. I begged him to stay. My parents wouldn’t come over, and he didn’t want to come over to them, but for me he agreed. My parents put on smiles and said a brief hello, then turned to others to talk.
I didn’t understand it. JC went home, and I rode back to my town with my parents. In Silence. You could have cut the air with a knife. I could not have been more puzzled.
So I asked my parents, “What did you think of JC?”
Silence. They didn’t even look at each other. Just Silence.
“I know you can hear me. What’s wrong? What did you think of JC?”
They looked at each other. Then stared ahead at the road. Silence.
“You might as well just tell me. What did you think of JC?”
My mother looked at my father, “Well… He’s black.” with a tone that ends all conversation.
*insert headspin here*
I didn’t even know that JC was black. Not that it probably would have mattered much. JC was light skinned and looked lightly tanned. I’d never seen him with more than his shirt off, so I had no way of knowing if it was just a tan or not.
My exposures to African-Americans, or blacks.. was pretty much limited to TV and the one black girl that used to live in town. She was dark black and sweet. Everyone loved her. Even my mother seemed to..
My parents never seemed to have problems associating with people of all kinds. All cultures, colors, whatever. They didn’t socialize much, but growing up I never saw them talk differently to anyone. Sure sure they had ignorant biases against people they didn’t know.. but nothing like the treatment they had of JC.
It was that night I learned. “All people are equal, unless they’re going to be my son-in-law.” I kept seeing him anyway until I left for college. Had he given me a choice, I’d still be with him.
Over the years, their biases and ignorance has played small parts in my life. Small parts because I realize them for what they are, and know that is not the kind of person who I want to be. (My best friend who is part Native American was told to her face that she was “One of THOSE people” by my mother. Which is why very few people ever meet my family.)
But dating outside of my race.. has been a theme lately. I expected it to be akin with dating someone from a different cultural background. Forgetting all that I learned with JC, and letting my parent’s biases cloud my head.
Slowly, I’m realizing that people of differences can have a whole lot more in common than people of similarities. Its all in how you define different.
The last few crushes I’ve had lately.. have all been people of difference. To others they may look different.. but to me.. like JC, they simply just look perfect and I’m swooning.