I can't believe it. I am so excited for them, and so, so happy to have this awesome guy joining our family. So, in honor, I am reprinting the blog Jeff wrote a few months back, during "Male Week," about his imminent entry into my crazy (but lovely--in my opinion!) family!
P: “No, you are burnt red!”
Me: “No, really I’m turning golden brown, like toast? Aren’t I?”
The reality arrives when I lay in bed and the sheets feel like sandpaper on my skin. In the morning I see more similarities between me and strawberry jam than golden crust on my toast. When I have kids, will they give me a hard time too? What will their jokes be? Will they get a laugh at me for being the whitest guy on the beach? Will they get a laugh at me being the only one to pause for sunscreen application at family gatherings involving my new family? I certainly hope so because my fiancée P does. It makes her laugh, which is inevitably followed by her touting her built in sun-block, and then complaining about her chances of becoming burnt toast. Our children will probably complain about the same thing – Woohoo! (at least they won’t have to look like dad the lobster). Thinking of them doing this as I search for the ultimate SPF makes me happy. It brings me back to the present, and the events that will lead up to my kids making fun of me.
I’m getting married this summer. I’m engaged to the one girl it scares me to think I might not have met, but did, and now can’t imagine living without. Polaroid cameras, riding the zipper at the fair, and our rowboat quest for fried dough that almost ended in MIT sending out a search party brought us together. Building bicycles, animation machines, and a life and family together has made us inseparable.
Bringing our families together has and will be fun, a little bit chaotic, and at times confusing. For me it was a learning experience to maneuver myself into the thanksgiving chaat line, and my voice into her family’s excited conversations, but I’m almost a pro. Although I’m pretty sure I’ll never shake off the “too quiet” ruling (which every non-Indian seems to get), really it’s because I have a hard time talking while I’m eating. At least I won’t get the “doesn’t eat enough” ruling. I’m not being polite with my trips back to the kitchen I just love eating at P’s house.
We are planning our wedding with P’s parents, MotaDad (he is by all means a BIG DAD, the Indian Papa, a true Ganesh, and I’m excited to say my future father-in-law) and Ammi (who made my jaw drop and my heart grow the first day she referred to me at ‘beta’ (which was four years after we met!). I’ve been to almost every kind of wedding now, and let’s face it, Indians know how to celebrate. My first experience was P’s sister’s wedding (MD and Ammi’s first daughter and my soon-to-be super-sister-in-law) and it was a labor of love that will be remembered for generations. I remember MotaDad greeting us: barefoot, stick dancing, and bear hugs all around. I also recall my attempts at bhangra dancing, 3 suit changes, and 300 Aunties and Uncles wanting to make sure I was “enjoying the festivities”. I think I still am. (Occasionally I’ll get an email to confirm that. Thanks Uncle!) Slowly I started to feel like part of the family as more and more my name became “Jeffuchi.”
Soon I’ll be on the mandap with P. Our wedding ceremony will be mostly Hindu but not entirely traditional. I won’t ride an elephant (I would if I could) or a horse in the barat, or wear a kurta or sherwani. But the barat! Holy Moly I’m excited for it, and it’s just the beginning. My family will probably need a little help……ok a lot of help. P jokingly suggested we help by starting the barat at the bar. I want it to involve both families – my brother, my mom, and hopefully my soon-to- be brother-in law, as well as all of the aunties and uncles and cousins that have shown me how it’s done. I’m sure my family will get the hang of it, and I predict any formal separation of families (i.e. who’s dancing and who’s not) will end when the dhol drummers begin. I know P’s family will be jumping.
Ever since I’ve been engaged that’s how I picture MotaDad and Ammi – joyous and jumping. It makes me happy. I remember visiting last spring to talk with them about my future with P. I was so nervous the first half of my visit I couldn’t sit still or eat, and somehow tea time that day involved a table of food. I did eventually talk, and asked MotaDad and Ammi for their blessing. MotaDad stared at me for what seemed an eternity, tried to give me a hard time being the jokester he is, but couldn’t hold his laughter.
For that split second of eternity waiting for his reaction, I had a strange thought. I looked at my arm and imagined it turning golden brown.
But it didn’t have to. Now I’m “Jeffuchi"...
But yeah, I still get sunburned.