It all began one summer day during my senior year of high school. He asked me for a ride to the tennis courts because his mom wouldn’t let him drive to school–he had to ride the bus. Since we were both on the tennis team, I didn’t mind giving him a ride to practice as the courts were off campus. I wasn’t sure of this boy who somehow got my number over the summer and called me all the time. He’d ask if I wanted to play tennis and my answer was always the same, “Sorry, but I’m babysitting my cousin out of town.” Which was completely true..but I see how it sounds now. However, I really, truly was out of town babysitting my cousin for the summer.
Fast forward to me giving him rides to tennis practice. i had to stop by my house first and change before practice, but I didn’t really know this boy that well so I showed him to the office and computer while I went to my room, locked the door, and hastily changed for practice. I didn’t know him well enough to guess that he was more interested in watching music videos and funny cat videos than bothering me.
He started noticing that I would leave tennis practice early on Wednesdays and asked me where I went. I told him I went to church and youth group. I don’t ever remember asking him if he wanted to come. I’m pretty sure he asked me if he could come. I was an altar server so he would sit by himself at mass. Looking back that was probably rude of me not to sit with him, but now we’re married so he apparently didn’t think much of it.
One weekend our youth group was having a movie night. I invited this boy and about five minutes into the movie he “stretched” his arm which ended up around my shoulder. I was mildly shocked, especially since we were at a church event so I decided to get us some snacks at that very moment. Awkward teenage love for the win.
We kept riding together to tennis practice, getting to know each other as just friends until one day this boy asked, “What would your parents think if you dated someone of another race?” I know that racism doesn’t exist anymore and everything is right in the world..This was a turning point in our relationship because, you see, this boy was Asian–a first generation Laotian American, and I was (and still am) definitely not a first generation American who has red hair and freckles. We live in the South which tends to be slow to accept diversity so his question was a valid one. My answer: my parents would be okay with whoever I date so long as they treat me well and have ambition.
And right there the door of possibility swung wide open.