These past couple of weeks I have been in sunny, beautiful Los Angeles. I was so excited for this trip because my sister lives in LA and I get stay with her instead of in a hotel. There’s something for everyone here and if you want the best of that something you’re likely to find it in a city as big/diverse as Los Angeles. Between the beaches, hiking trails, shopping, galleries, restaurants, other major cities that are close by and overall weather I’m not sure how someone could ever be bored here. My favorite thing about LA is that if you’re in the city you can look up and see an absurd amount of planes flying into LAX which I think is pretty cool to watch (especially when you’re stuck in traffic). So enough about Los Angeles, I’ve put off writing about T$ and I so I’m just going to jump right into the synopsis of our story…so far.
T$ and I met in 10th grade in Mr. K’s study hall. Soon after we becoming friends and some high school drama subsided is where our story begins. Innocently enough we really liked each other. We wrote each other notes, hung out at football games, hockey games, went to the movies…all normal stuff. This all sounds pretty standard so far, but one huge thing was that my family didn’t know he existed in my life. My family is a traditional and religious Pakistani family, so I was raised with immigrant parents. I was terrified that they would essentially disown me for not only dating, but dating a white guy at that. Plus we were so young, there’s no way they would let it happen. Still to this day I feel like I had no choice but back then I was crazy and dramatic (what teenager isn’t?) so who really knows what would have happened. We weren’t totally in secret though, his family knew. His mom was supportive, mostly because he was happy which is all she wanted. Shortly before we started dating, T’s dad passed away. It was a life shattering, world-upside-down time in their lives. He also has a little sister who was young at the time but very much present. So when his mom said he was happy it truly was what she cared about, because so much was going on. T’s dad passing away was really just the tip of the iceberg when it came to his family. A lot went on over the course of the next 8 years. He really didn’t have the easiest life,no one does but damn, his story is something else. We made me a plan that if we wanted to do this, it would be 10 years in the making, just to get to the finish line.
Fast forward a couple of years and we’re both going to the same college (not because of each other) but because it’s where we wanted to go. We coasted through, made awesome friends and somewhere during my 3rd year I couldn’t take it anymore. The secret was just gnawing at me, I had to do something. After fighting and tears (hey, it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns) I told my sister. I sent her a Facebook message and just came out with it. Just like that. She asked a lot of questions and I answered them the best I could. I asked her to not tell anyone in my family, which to my surprise she agreed, for two years she didn’t say anything. She dropped hints here and there to my family but nothing major, at least not to my knowledge. Her and her husband were surprisingly supportive. T and I rode high on this for so long, it was just the fuel we needed to keep going. I talked openly with my sister and her husband about T, they asked about him frequently and I was at peace, for the most part.
Fast forward to senior year of college where nostalgia hits you hard. You realize you’re leaving soon for the real world and all sorts of stress comes out of no where. I needed to get a job! Where was I going to live? The scary part being is that you can actually be anywhere, doing anything, but not having a clue to what life will be like was kind of scary. This produced another freak out moment. Could I really do this, a life with T? The way my family is? I thought I couldn’t. I had become very close with them while I was at school and could not bear to disappoint them like I knew I would. So we had a rough patch where I really didn’t know what to do. I went home and had some one on one time with my dad, which was very very rare. Short back story, his sister married a Chinese man and everything turned out fine, she passed away so I never got the chance to ask her about it but I brought it up to my dad. This was the route into me telling him about T. Our conversation was long, and slow…filled with lots of questions. I thought my dad would handle it well, because of his sister. And he did, for the most part. Somewhere towards the middle of our conversation he stood up and just started pacing the house, sometimes we were talking while he was upstairs and I was downstairs, he seemed very nervous. Look back on this I still laugh, can you imagine having a serious conversation like this? After our talk I told him I wanted to “come out” to everyone else in the family on my own. Next would be my older brother (a huge father figure when I was growing up) and then finally would be the hardest egg to crack, my mom. He didn’t necessarily agree but he said he would wait.
He didn’t wait.
All hell broke loose. He told my mom, who told my brother and those two months are honestly a blur. Everyday there were tears, my mom pleading with me. Arguments with my brother. Overall just a lot of emotions. And the worst part of it was that I felt so alone. T and my friends were there but there’s no way they could fully understand what was happening. But their support changed everything. They listened when I was frustrated and went on and on about everything that was going on, many times they gave me a shoulder to cry on and helped me see the light in what I thought was a terrible situation. T helped me through panic attacks, freak outs and talks with my family. Without him and my friends I would not have been able to get through it.
Eventually things calmed down, a little. My mom was in denial, there were still tears and fighting but it wasn’t daily, maybe bi weekly. This changed the dynamic between my older brother and me, we had a couple huge fights. Some that I didn’t think we would be able to get passed. T and I had a plan, being so young we didn’t want to rush anyone to feel comfortable as soon as possible. We wanted to give them time. Once my family knew that this wasn’t a question of “if” but a question of “when” then they started coming around. They genuinely felt bad that I didn’t feel like I could come to them for years and years. It took my 6 years to come clean.
So they met. We did a movie and ice cream. The movie was a documentary that our local Muslim/Pakistani community was screening, my dad invited him. This was huge, not only was he meeting my family but he was being exposed to the community. I don’t remember the movie, I swear I blacked out from nerves alone but I remember it being crazy that he finally heard my dad’s laugh, my mom’s adorable accent, saw how tall my little brother was, and how nice my older brother and his wife are. After the movie we got ice cream and it was great, he brought my mom flowers which she accepted and thanked him for. Surprisingly it was never awkward, no silences or no weird questions. We did, however, run into some family friends and just kind of glazed over the fact that T was there. We said our goodbyes, my mom gave him a hug and we left.
After this meeting we were riding pretty high, I couldn’t believe it. We had a family meeting afterwards, everyone went around in a circle and said how they felt. My mom said she’s unsure, it was too soon to say but that he was nice. My dad and younger brother essentially said the same thing as my mom. My dad expressed how he wanted to have a more serious talk with him eventually, but that it was a good first meeting. My older brother listed off good things about him just from the first impression but expressed that being nice overall wasn’t going to cut it, he had to see more. That was disheartening, to say the least. The last thing I wanted was an expectation that T would have to jump through hoops to be with me.
The second meeting was during a muslim holiday, Eid. Eid marks the end of Ramadan which is a month of fasting and overall good behavior. The place where the Eid prayer was taking place was walking distance to T’s super nice and new apartment. So he invited them over for some breakfast afterwards. I wasn’t there for this. Yes, he had them over for breakfast without me. My whole family was there, so this time it’s a bigger group because my sister and her husband were in town. My parents brought him some sweets, he also had sent them some from their favorite bakery in Chicago the week before. I heard this went great, another casual meeting, nothing serious but still major at the same time. After this we were riding pretty high again. My whole family was impressed by his place. Shortly after, my brother bought a house and asked T if he wanted to move in to take care of it. My brother and his wife were to move in the following summer. The logistics didn’t work out but it was huge that he even asked.
I was back in town during late November and I asked if T could come over to dinner one weekend while I was home. This was a bigger deal because my parents would be inviting him into their home, my mom would be cooking him a meal and it just seemed more serious. My dad was all for it and my mom went back and forth for a couple of days but then she reluctantly said yes. Dinner was great, no awkwardness again and my parents sent him home with leftovers and some extra treats. That was right before I left for Qatar and it was a great note to leave on. Towards the end of my trip, T’s mom had some health scares and my mom actively checked up on her (through me) which was really great. So that’s pretty much the story so far, my moms still probably a dull red light (she says) my older brother is probably a yellow light and everyone else is a green light to get this show on the road.
So back track to before the good parts to where I was first telling my family, that feeling of being alone, is partially why I started this blog. I kept Googling “how to come out to your parents” but obviously that wasn’t quite right. Although, I did borrow a few tips from those articles. When I first told my sister about starting this blog she goes “well don’t you want to wait until you’re at least engaged?” which is a point I thought about too. What if we go through all of this and nothing comes from it? It would be terrible. But even if that did happen, if we didn’t end up together, that doesn’t mean we didn’t happen. It doesn’t discount everything we’ve been through for the past 8 years. I also just wanted to keep track of life, so much is happening and my memory is terrible, I wanted a way for me to reflect back on this time.
We think that the next few steps should include T having a serious one on one with my dad and brother, having our families meet and then taking it from there to the next big step. I have a feeling that more tears and fights will break out but I hope I’m wrong. Also, small disclosure: so much more happened from high school days to now but I just wanted to hit the key events that are more pertinent to what’s going on. Again, not everything was always great and romantic, aside from the big stuff there were still other highs and other lows, just like anyone’s life and relationships. I’m really excited to see what this year will bring.