written by Angela M
I grew up on Disney and nightly walks with my Russian grandparents, sunflower seeds sticking to my fingers, old lady tales dripping from my ears like borscht. I was never told not to smile at a cute Asian boy, or to repress a casual wink at a dashing Spaniard.
Maybe I was never told to not do these things because: 1) I don’t smile often, and 2) I can barely wink. Regardless, there was never any objection to multicultural friendships. Romantically speaking, though, it was never really spoken about, perhaps because it was never really expected.
My first legitimate ounce of interest in the opposite sex could have something to do with my current situation.
I was in the first grade, and his name was Timothy. He was everything I wanted in a boy. He never spoke to me; he rarely, if ever, held the staircase door open for me; and he cheated on me. I don’t know whether it counts as cheating if we were never in a relationship, but my heart was temporarily in shambles. Did I mention that Timothy was Asian? Did I also mention that I’m white and Jewish and from Brooklyn?
At 22, and not a bit less romantic than my first grade self, I find my heart taken once again (this time, in a less make-believe type of way). I am in love with a writer who just so happens to be outside of my race. Raised Muslim but not practicing, my Indian love connects himself with the folk of Jackson Heights, Queens before anything else. To sum things up, not only am I dating a fellow who’s a hundred beautiful shades darker than my pastey self, but I am also dating someone outside of my borough.
We met at a house party. His band was playing, and I later on learned that he had asked our mutual friend to invite me, since he was too shy to do it himself. The night felt like something taken out of one of those typical teenage movies where the girl seems to be playing coy, not realizing what’s going on, and the guy is fumbling over every other word, crossing his fingers that he doesn’t look as dumb as he feels. It took me half the party to realize that I was falling heavy over someone who I had never expected to come across.
Surprisingly, my mother was more accepting of my new found love than some of my friends. When I say some, I really just mean one. My Jewish friend Rebecca* was stunned to realize that I was romantically involved with someone so far from my religion. I kept it secret from her for as long as I could, afraid of the very reaction that I got. She started telling me that being a Jew meant that I was part of the chosen ones, and how keeping religion alive in my family was imperative. Basically, she made me feel like the black sheep of the herd. A day after her attack, she apologized wholeheartedly and told me that I have her full support in any decision that I make in life. (I can only imagine how Rebecca’s reaction would have been if I had confessed that I was getting married!) Just to be clear, I consider myself Jewish more in terms of culture than practice. Echoing Keats, “Love is my religion.”
In a city where love has an astigmatism and hearts beat to their own bongo, interracial coupling is more common than ever. Every way my head turns, I see it: hands of different colors holding on to each other. It’s beautiful, really. And now, I am part of it. We grew up hearing different languages being spoken at home, eating foods synonymous to our cultures, but we were also scolded by our parents for leaving cookie crumbs in our beds, and watching too many T.V. shows instead of doing our homework. Plenty of people in college date people who they didn’t expect to be with. We aren’t really all that different, though. We both love literature and writing, we listen to the same type of music, and, obviously, we both enjoy a good house party.
*Name changed to protect privacy.
Find out more about Academic Discounts!