When I snatched Rey as mine, I was more than happy to go on and on to whoever made the mistake of asking me about my love life. I would start with his amazing good looks, how tall he was, that he was studying to be an Engineer, that he was an amazingly strong Christian and a great example... and then move on to his sensitivity, romantic tendancies and unfailing honesty. When people were to the point of asking me please please please for his brother's phone number, I'd drop the bomb. "And, he's Mexican."
It was almost instantaenous and universal. The excited smile would semi-freeze and then begin to droop. The eager lean-in became a lean-back. I would see their gears working. Conjuring up cacti, burros, and a short, tan fellow with a large, black handle-bar mustache. Thumbs hooked into a belt with a ridiculously large buckle, cowboy boots, black jeans, big cowboy hat. Beaming smile, whistling at the ladies. Chewing on a burrito and saying "Andale!", "Arriba!" and "Chimichangas!" That kind of Mexican.
I heard a lot of things. "He needs to become an American." "He's just using you for a green card." "How can you be sure you're his only girlfriend?"
It was a really interesting dynamic, actually. Usually, the reactions didn't upset me, because I knew that I'd found a keeper and that didn't depend on race or culture. Once, a guy cutting my hair launched into a long speech about those evil Mexicans sneaking across the border and stealing all the jobs and how they should go back where they came from. It was fun to watch him try to snatch back all those words after I said my fiance was Mexican (he did need that tip after all!).
Now, after 3 years of dating and 3 years of marriage... I look back on those reactions. As I walk down streets full of Mexicans speaking Spanish, I think about the ways I am the same and different from them.
When people ask me if "it's" hard, I often respond that I don't even think about it. And I don't. But, the truth is, our cultures are who we are. I don't even notice that I spend most of the day switching back and forth between Spanish and English--but, we often comment on how our different perspectives were molded for us by our upbringing/culture.
It is fun and it is a challenge. However, many of the challenges are the same (I think) as those faced by all couples: Learning how to meld and mesh your two distinct backgrounds into one new vision--a new family.
There are the obvious difficulties of 2 cultures combining: The sometimes ackward compliments that our babies are a great blend of coffee and vanilla. The stares when we go out. (Interesting side-note: When I was out and about with my bro Ben a little while ago, I noticed almost everyone would look at us and smile... doesn't happen when Rey and I are out).
But, I love it. I love that in God we have become one. I love that our babies will not only benefit from dual-citizenship, dual-language... but a natural understanding a two very different cultures. I love that through Rey, I have a way of understanding the culture we are living in... and through me, he has a different perspective on my culture.
I love that for us, race has become nothing and it is my prayer that we can help to break the concepts of race differences around us. Even if it is one person at a time.
A favorite passage of mine:
"Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him... Jesus Christ is Lord of all... through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10)