Nearly a year ago, I began dating a man whose skin was (is) a different shade than mine.
And thank god for that, because I’m so uncomfortably pale that many have been blinded by the sun reflecting off my skin. Kind of like a Twilight vampire, only less like a diamond and more like a fluorescent lightbulb.
But I digress.
I’m a white woman, my boyfriend is black. Let me clarify and say that I’ve never really had a type. I haven’t exclusively dated black men or white men, and the same goes for my boyfriend and the women he has been with. I’ve been involved, in varying capacities, with multiple “races” simply because I’ve been involved with multiple men. I’d probably call it a coincidence. Some might call it diversification. Others might call it promiscuity.
The point is, I wasn’t looking for any particular type of guy. In fact, I wasn’t even really looking for a guy. Or a girl. I was just working, and a dark-skinned man with locks walked up to the counter I was standing behind.
“Where’s my tequila?” he said. I struggled to remember what he was talking about, but I had recognized him before he’d even opened up the glass door of the shop. We’d met before.
Like many 20-somethings, I found myself with a virtually useless Bachelor’s degree and a steady cashiering job to help me save money while I camped out at my parents’ house and tried to figure out what the hell to do next. Somewhere (perhaps on the internet, or maybe from a family member), I heard millennials referred to as a generation of overly-qualified cashiers. It was a dishearteningly accurate statement.
I felt much like a child again. In fact, when I first spoke to my future love, I was reading a Batman comic book that my mother had brought home for me. I was 23. It was a newer Batman book than I was used to— Dick Grayson, I think, was Batman. Bruce Wayne was nowhere to be found, which already made it unfamiliar territory, and it turned out to be about Batman trying to stop a particularly twisted serial killer. (I know, it’s Gotham city, they’re all twisted— just trust me.)
Anyway, it was a great graphic novel, and I was utterly gripped by the story when the shop door opened and I looked up in terror.
“We didn’t mean to scare you,” said one of the men who had walked in. Both were black.
“Oh!” I said, and in an effort to show them that I was not only not a racist, but also totally smooth and cool, I held up my Batman comic and said that they’d caught me at a really scary part. Then I began to flip through the pages to find the goriest scene so far. We started to talk about Batman, and then about anime. (I didn’t know anything about anime, and I still don’t, but when a cute guy is talking to you, you work with what you have.) My future love, deep-voiced, locked and adorable, asked about a type of tequila that came in a pistol-shaped bottle. I told him my boss could order it for him and took his name and number.
I can’t speak for my boss, but I know never called him. I wasn’t sure if he’d wanted me too, and what would I say? “Hey, I don’t think your tequila came in but it doesn’t matter— I’m fun enough to hang out with sober.” It sounds like a pickup line recommended by some kind of 50’s homeschooling anti-alcohol program.
I forgot about him until his name, similar to an old folk singer’s, came up in a movie. Not long after that, he was back in the store asking about that bottle of tequila.
I scrambled to find it, realized it hadn’t been ordered, and then kept talking to him anyway. Finally he said, “You know, I really came back here to see you.”
“I was hoping you would,” I said honestly.
That’s how we met. It wasn’t online. It wasn’t planned. It wasn’t glamorous. It just happened, and it was perfect.
When I got out of work, we went for a long walk together. I’m not sure if any person is ever 100% genuine at any moment in their lives. But I’d like to think that the two of us were mostly pretty honest with each other from the beginning. It was an attitude that would help us as time went on.
Being together has been an eye-opening experience. As a white person in a society that basically sets lighter skin as an aspirational value, you can bet I haven’t had to deal with too much racism in my time. As a man, my boyfriend hasn’t dealt directly with much sexism. And so this blog is about us, the things we teach and learn from each other, and the things we learn simply by existing as an interracial couple.
To start with, anyway.