By “Zac Onbothsides”
There we were, wow, she was stunning. The conversation was easy, we were laughing. We talked about our families and backgrounds. If it’s not obvious from previous entries, I am a white man. And my date on this evening was an African-American woman. So there we were, easing into some past personal history dialogue. Accompanied by some often asked questions- do you have children? Have you ever been married? Why are you single now?
~ side note, have you ever noticed how sometimes people are almost suspicious when you say you’re single. As if they’d almost rather you be involved? But isn’t it a good thing I’m single? We’re on this date aren’t we? Like when you apply for a job and they look at you crazy when you say you’re currently unemployed. Wait- you WANT me to have a job? I’m here applying for your open position! I have full availability!!! ~Okay sorry, just a thought.
Anyways, she begins to tell me about her past relationships. I hate that I have heard much of it before. As she finishes sharing her final anecdote, wherein she references a bad break-up that was clearly painful, she looks up and exclaims-‘ So, I decided to try THIS!’ I smiled at her, thinking to myself, ‘wait! I’m a ‘this’? What’s a ‘this’?? But I understood what she meant. She had made the decision to consider dating outside of her race.
Those moments have a certain innocence and honesty that can be beautiful. I wanted her to be comfortable, to know that I wasn’t going to kidnap her and take her to a Rodeo, making her watch me drink light beer until my Wrangler jeans begged me to stop- all while professing my love and respect for Brett Favre. C’mon, no one is that white. At least not on date one. The point being, these are highly sensitive and reactionary times we are living in- we have to allow for some clumsiness.
I want to make that point again. These are days wherein seemingly every story is driven by our differences. Polarizing us. That can be a challenging backdrop to finding love. Or you can prioritize your own life and experiences over the external projections and provocations all around you. Finding a partner isn’t easy under any circumstance, but if we don’t allow for some awkwardness and missteps we may be truly missing out. In a wonderful sort of way it can inspire the kind of listening and learning and connecting that is such an important part of love.
So often as men, we feel the need to be seen by others, including a romantic partner, as strong, capable, competent and able. It’s a pressure we place on ourselves, which often keeps us from being loved for who we truly are. It causes us to be less than we are, as we pretend to be more. And the beauty of the inter-racial relationship can often bring this point into Technicolor.
We should listen to each other, we should allow each other some awkwardness, some mistakes. It’s easy to find fault, to assume you know all there is to know about someone’s lived experience, but for a lifetime of love isn’t it worth finding the courage to be yourself? To be vulnerable? To stumble a little?