CROSSING CULTURAL BOUNDARIES

CROSSING CULTURAL BOUNDARIES

LETTING GO OF FEAR

“Fear made me say no, but friendship and curiosity caused me to say yes.” As, an African-American woman I had never thought about the prospect of marrying an Indian man. Sure, I had crushes on numerous guys of other ethnicities, but it never struck me that it would or could lead to marriage. Any time, I had fantasized it could be more I was shortly slapped in the face by the societal taboos and utterings of how confusing it would be for “the kids” and families.   Hence the guys that I liked throughout College that weren’t African-American always found their way into the “it’s complicated category.”

To clear things up quickly, it was not due to my parents.  The pressing need to give their children a greater future caused my parents to move from the inner borders of Chicago to a diverse, and suburban community in IL. From the fourth grade onward, I lived in a diverse community and had numerous neighbors and friends that were Indian (Hindu and Muslim), Caucasian, African-American, Latino, Asian etc. Hence when I left H.S.  and went to College my parents understood then and now that society was changing and that their daughter would be exposed to different cultures.  They really challenged me to be independent, to think outside the box, to invest in someone that would invest 100% in me, to remember my morals and values, and promise I would not return home with just a “Mrs. Degree.”

HOW IT ALL BEGAN

So when my, now, husband approached me at work (yes, work) I thought to myself, oh, he is cute and nothing more. I knew from my childhood friends that Indian men traditionally marry Indian women and so there was no secondary thought of what if?  However when I met him again during a work outing on May 5 (Cinco de Mayo), 2004 I knew there was something more to him.  Not that I would marry him but that he was different.  Our conversation that evening was easy and we effortlessly clicked.

WHEN FRIENDSHIP BECOMES MORE
During the course of our conversation, I found out that his brother had married an American. I thought to myself okay, cool, so she is an Indian-American.  “No, he quickly said to me, she is a Caucasian-American woman.” In that instant, my expression changed to that of “what you talking about Willis”?  And without me knowing it my heart instantly said who is this man? For the next 3 hours we talked and it seemed like the world stopped.  By the end of the evening he had chivalrously walked me to my car.  Over the course of the next couple of months he and I continued to  hang out as friends. And then on August 15, 2004 he asked me out on a date. I was confused and excited all  at once because I wouldn’t be able to put him into the “its complicated category.”  I agreed, with the exception that I would drive myself and  pay for my own meal .   This way things didn’t seem official to me and I owed him nothing.  We would be merely two friends going out to dinner.  However, he met me at the restaurant, opened my car door, and greeted me with the most beautiful bouquet of pink orchids. He then smiled and said he was going to treat me like a Princess.   I was breathless and that evening we talked about everything from our dreams, race, religion, politics etc.  It was as if, we were having a Sweet Jo Brown, “ain’t nobody got time for this” playing games moment. We figured out that on two of our biggest deal breakers 1.) our morals and 2.) our values that we were on one accord.  Neither of us wanted the evening to end and so we continued to talk until the wee hours of the morning.  The next day we hung out again and decided we didn’t want to stop hanging out with each other. My husband says, he knew the day that he saw me at our mutual friend’s cubicle that I was the one.
Neither of us introduced the other to our parents until we knew it was serious.  We wanted to be married!  He was invested in me and I, in him 100%.  Indian men, in particular, have a certain way they have to introduce someone to their parents. In retrospect, it seems that my childhood almost prepped me for the diversity that makes up my family today. And, no, I’m not going to sugarcoat things and say that because his brother married a Caucasian woman caused things to be easy for us, No, no, no, no. However, would I, would we, walk down this road to saying, I do again? Most definitely!

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