We took these pictures on Saturday. Just walking the dog, relaxing and enjoying the beautiful weather. When I look at these photos, I see the two loves of my life. I see happiness. I see an American looking family. I laugh a little when I think of that. American looking? What does that even mean? I thought the whole Idea was that you can’t “look American.” That anyone could be. To me, N looks like the All-American boy.
Until someone asks me this question…What is he?
It happens frequently. Maybe more frequently than is polite. I know right away that they are referencing his olive skin, his jet black hair, his dark eyes, and his unruly eyebrows (yes, we’ve discussed trimming but he’s very anti-eyebrow grooming. whatever, I choose my battles).
They mean: what’s his ethnicity? Which makes me wonder…what is it that makes us care about that? When I first met N, I too was curious. Was he Indian? Greek? Italian? To a lot of people, N is an ethnic question mark. I think maybe we think that, by knowing a persons background, it will help us paint a whole picture of who they are. But what if that isn’t part of the persons painting? What if it’s not part of how they think of themselves?
After someone asked this at our family Easter gathering, I asked N what he thought.
“When I think about that, I don’t think that’s my main identifier. Like when I think, who am I? It doesn’t really occur to me that I’m Middle-Eastern first, to other people. That it’s the first thing they notice about me.”
And then he asked me, “What’s your main identifier?” All I could really come up with was – generic white chick. How much easier has my life been because I’m vanilla? Because I’ve never been seen as the “other”? I’ll never know. No one ever looks at me and immediately wonders “what is she?”
After years together, there are so many other things I see first when I look at N. I see a whole picture of a whole person who I love dearly. I see the guy who I’ve shared my life with for the past three years.
Although I guess the fact that we keep inheriting Persian rugs should serve as a reminder that our backgrounds are different. But let me tell you, with a big, red Persian rug and my collection of miscellaneous teapots, my living room looks eclectic and fabulous.
p.s. N thinks he looks creepy in the above photo. I still posted it on the interwebs because I think he looks cute. Sorry, N.