I was really nervous when I proposed to Jenny last October. We talk about it often as it was very clear from the way I presented it that whatever I was about to say to Jenny was big. My nervousness made her nervous too and thankfully the news I had to deliver was of the good variety. I knew deep down inside I’d be successful with my proposal. One bit of me, just a bit, did think things wouldn’t go as well as planned mainly because I had still not met Jenny’s family. On our second Beecation, that time came.
After a week and a half together we traveled to Jenny’s hometown to meet her kin. I had only ever talked to her mama briefly on Facebook and seen her brothers on Skype at Christmas with casual greetings. Our interactions were pretty short and meeting them in-person had me very nervous. It should though, right? These are the newest members of my family and they’re not as easy to influence as the babies Jenny and I will make.
The usual questions flooded my head before her family arrived. What if they don’t like me? What if I make a fool out of myself? It wouldn’t change anything between Jenny and me. It would, however, make things a lot more difficult.
Since I wanted to meet her immediate family first before we gathered at her home the next day with a lot of other people present, we made the plan to take them out to eat at a local restaurant. Jenny was a lot more nervous than I was earlier in the day and I felt completely cool about it even when we arrived at the restaurant.
Then, as time progressed, I let my poker face go.
To drink I ordered the bottomless iced tea which is surprisingly popular in the Philippines. It was a sans calorie-counting vacation and I’m pretty sure I consumed about 3,000 calories worth of liquids in this one sitting alone. Before they even arrived I probably downed a pitcher’s worth of iced tea. It didn’t stop either once they arrived as my body sweated out most of it.
Along with the usual awkwardness of meeting your fiancée/best friend’s family, there was also the language barrier to overcome. I had practiced for what felt like hours, but was probably only a few minutes, how to greet them at all times of the day. Fortunately the greeting for good evening was one of the easier ones to say which made this meeting at dinner all the more ideal. I successfully did so with a humorous ice-breaker shortly after they arrived.
We were all clearly nervous in the early stages of the dinner. The same thoughts probably overfilled their minds. What if I didn’t like them? What if they made a fool out of themselves? It wouldn’t change anything between any of us. It would, however, makes things a lot more difficult.
Once we all accepted that it’s okay for them to speak the native tongue things were a little more relaxed. Anything that needed to be translated was. They didn’t for a second expect me to roll out Visayan or Tagalog words or phrases. Despite the size of my head, it’s already pretty full of nonsense. I’m not sure a new language is something I’ll ever excel at.
Whenever I did lose my place or felt the nerves kicking back in I returned to my bottomless iced tea which was constantly being refreshed. The scariest moment was actually when the wait staff sang Happy Birthday because it started with a loud scream. They did warn us earlier too which was nice of them. I thought it was purely out of politeness, but looking back I think they didn’t want a lawsuit if we had a heart attack.
We were all still pretty tight even after lots of chatting and a group picture:
Cramped in the booth, it wasn’t until we went outside that I think we all loosened up a little more. Once we all knew we weren’t there to criticize each other, we were able to relax and just be our silly selves:
After all, there is a reason why Jenny is my best friend and she comes from this family. Even if I don’t have the same connection with the rest of the clan, clearly we are linked in some way. Her sense of humor, kindness, and generosity that makes her so wonderful is also seen in them too. I’ve already shared secret laughs with her family and been welcomed into their home like I belonged. Even though it meant sweating through a dinner, I’m glad I did it. The reward at the end was gaining a new family…