As time inches closer to the holidays–primarily Thanksgiving, plans are also starting to form. I’ve never thought much of Thanksgiving as a whole. Wait, that sounds terrible. I mean, growing up my family always celebrated it, but beyond high school and into my college years it’s all sort of been ad-hoc and conditional. Some years I just visited extended family out of state, other years I’ve had local “friendsgivings” and twice now, I’ve spent it watching netflix while eating Boston Market or something similarly shitty. I did a combination of the last two options last year (though the majority of it was a blur). I guess I hadn’t thought much about this year until this past Sunday when The Teacher asked if I would come home with him to spend Thanksgiving with him and his family this year. We were riding back to his place from having a triple dinner date at his friend’s place and had just spent a lovely weekend cuddled up together doing cheesy solo couples shit, perhaps he just felt “popping the question” was appropriate?
After agreeing to the offer, he went on about how excited he was. His eyes lit up like fire works on the fourth of July. While I’ve already met his father and step mother (and I’m cool with them), he mentioned that this time I would be meeting his (actual) mother, grandfather, aunt, uncle and maybe a cousin or two?
Whoa. whoa. whoa there, buddy.
I was under the impression that this would be an intimate sophisticated adults Thanksgiving with just his dad and step mom where we all got wine tipsy while watching cheesy holiday specials after gorging ourselves on loads of carbs. You know, a lazy-ish Thanksgiving of sorts. You mean I’ve now got to meet more of your fam-a-lam-a-lam-a-lam?
As he rambled on about these loosely thought out plans (when we’d leave, what we’d do the day we got there, whether or not we’d be bringing something, etc), I thought about whether or not his extended family knew much about me (I at least know they know OF me) and if after meeting me, would accept me? I probably haven’t said much if ANYTHING up here, but The Teacher and I are in an interracial relationship. Yes. While this doesn’t SEEM like a huge deal in 2018, it could be to those who may not agree with it, or well, (don’t agree with) me specifically and I’m always aware and on high alert about it. I don’t entirely live in a bubble. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t care about what someone else thinks about my relationship, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that ongoing negativity would potentially piss me off over time.
The Teacher is extremely open-minded and welcoming. He’s a very warm and kindhearted person. He’s loyal, silly, intelligent, adorable and probably one of my favorite people to be around whether we’re actively doing something out or being lazy and binge watching netflix in. He checks all of the boxes and then some. He’s never said anything remotely insensitive or racist (nor does he seem to associate with anyone who is insensitive or racist) and is always fully aware of who and what we are and ready to “go to bat” for anyone who has a problem with it. He’s also extremely public about our relationship and is quick to introduce me as his girlfriend to any and everyone (though most people he introduces me already know who I am). In our conversations about cultural differences (mostly me explaining things some black folks do–like how I had to explain to him just last night that I do not want him getting my hair wet each time we shower together–especially if we have to go somewhere immediately after– because it’s a literal PROCESS for most black women to wash, dry and style our hair), he’s always been respectful and accepting. I can tell that if he has a question, it comes from a genuine place of wanting to understand and not one of malice or mockery.
I occasionally forget about “reality” and find myself immersed in our own little world of just “us”. Of course, I never forget that I am a black woman and he is a white man and regardless of how “in love/like” we might be with one another, the world around us might not always be so welcoming or kind, especially as we become more serious in our relationship and skeptical people realize this is no phase or fetish–yes, people in 2018 would probably think that. They might also wonder why neither one of us is dating someone of our own race. The world can be a cold place. Luckily, our friends, immediate family members and people who matter the most to us seem very accepting of our relationship. I was relieved that his father and step mother seemed to really take a genuine liking to me and welcomed me with open arms, considering the very first time I met them was also the weekend I stayed in their home, in a bed, with their son. The entire way there I wondered…did he prep them? Did he tell them I was…black? How did THAT conversation go?! After all, I am the first black girlfriend he’s had and maybe the first girl he’s been serious enough to “bring home” like that?
Before he met my parents a few weeks ago, I don’t explicitly remember ever telling my parents that he was white. In fact, until somewhat recently, I hadn’t really told them many specific things about him at all outside of the fact that he was a Teacher and he treated me well. Oh, also that he sleeps A LOT. I guess I didn’t feel like I needed to? As long as he treats me well and makes me happy, does it matter? I’ve been in interracial relationships before, so I guess I didn’t see it as being a “let’s sit down and have an open discussion”, thing. Besides, I had shown them photos of the Teacher prior to the meeting and of course after finding out that we finally became facebook friends, my mom “facebook stalked” him, as she typically does with boyfriends of mine and told me his whole ass class schedule for the year (after googling the high school he works at) Ok…?
As my relationship with the Teacher progresses, I keep waiting for the day that we face an extreme instance (or four) of someone openly disrespecting or discouraging our relationship without any regard for one or both of us as decent human beings. I halfheartedly expect this from older people–who may or may not have as much experience with interracial dating or even being around people of other races, but I’m pretty sure even people in my generation are this stupid too (just look who we have in the white house after all).
I think my concerns/premonitions are justified here. In a perfect world, I wouldn’t have to worry or care about what a total stranger, family member or friend thinks of the man I love, but such is life, I guess. Hopefully Thanksgiving goes over well.