It was dark and crisp, in the way that December nights in South Florida are, and we could see the stars through the windshield.
“I can’t believe that things went that well,” The Lawyer said to me.
The lights in front of my mother’s house were reflected in his glasses.
“I know,” I agreed. “It’s never gone that smoothly.”
In fact, just three weeks before, I had cried in front of him, at the thought of our parents meeting. I might have just been hormonal and stressed, but after the Year of 50 First Dates, in which I had total control in the purposefully casual dating, I was scared. Scared and overwhelmed. I knew that I had no control over what would happen during Christmas break and I hated it.
In every single dating relationship I’ve had, there’s always been some issue. Indian men’s parents thought that I was too dark. They didn’t like that I was Christian and that I didn’t know my caste. They told me that I didn't know their language and told their sons that they could do better. Christian parents were usually supportive, but then, they’d end up judging me for things I had no control over, like the fact that my parents are divorced. Rich's parents were the paragon for that particular issue, because even though I fit the bill for a perfect trophy wife, they still warned him that I come from a “broken home” and probably have “father issues.” More than one family member sat him down to counsel him about avoiding "girls like her," and when we broke up, I’m sure that there was at least a murmur, if not a chorus of, “we told you so.”
So, when The Lawyer and I decided that we would have our parents meet at his church’s Christmas Eve service, it was a gutsy and bold move.
Past first meetings included my mother’s abrasive questioning of Rajiv, in which she asked if he was an “idol worshipper” and lectures at me, including statements like, “I just can’t believe that a daughter of mine would date someone like him.”
But, instead of the worst case scenario that we were both bracing ourselves for, our mothers were chatting and laughing within minutes. They sat next to each other in church and at dinner afterwards, there was laughing, joking, and hugging. Both sets of parents invited us over for dinner at different times and while sitting among each others’ respective families, there was gift exchanging, story telling, picture showing, and just general happiness.
By the end of our week in Florida, I was unabashedly showing up at his parents’ door in pajamas to get coffee for breakfast and he was playing handyman for my mom, doing things like installing new blinds and changing fluorescent light bulbs in the kitchen. My mom asked if she could keep in touch with his mother, and in the car yesterday, he told me to answer his mother’s call, because she’d want to talk to me anyway.
When we pulled into the city last night, my heart was sad in a way that it hadn’t been in years. It was a really good Christmas break in Florida. Unlike years past where family squabbles left me praying for the end of vacation or stresses of my mother’s health drove me back to the comfort of my own apartment, we both agreed that there was something special about this year.
During the 16 hour drive home, we didn’t even turn on the radio. We talked, told stories about the years when our paths diverged, and entertained each other by our presence.
I hardly thought that I’d be starting 2012 with a boyfriend, much less this boyfriend, but here we go. He brings me coffee when I’m studying, rubs my feet after dinner, and refuses to let me wash the dishes. He listens when I read the Bible out loud to him, asks me to study medical school lectures at his house because he “likes learning new things,” and wants to hang out with my friends.
I still don't know what's going to happen in the long term, but if the next six months are anything like the past 45 days, I think it's going to be a great year.
(Also, apologies for not posting as much last month. The after Thanksgiving push almost killed me. Fellow medical professionals, you feel my pain!)