This past weekend, Sal and I flew out to Denver City, Texas for three nights with his family. It was quite a remarkable weekend, for a number of reasons.
And not just because I was afraid for my life.
First, a disclaimer: I’ve spent time with Sal’s mother on a number of occasions. She and I first met in New York for his college graduation, and later she visited us in Charlotte. But the rest of the family I’d met only once, during a visit to Texas three and a half years ago.
I say “the rest of the family” but that’s both an understatement and slightly overstated. I met his two sisters, three nephews, a niece, and what seemed like dozens of aunts, uncles, and cousins. But I didn’t meet Sal’s father or one of the nephews, as the two of them spent that weekend in Mexico and missed our visit.
This time around, I saw several familiar faces, which was a great comfort when surrounded by dozens more strangers. But I also got to meet the missing nephew, and to see Sal’s father at last.
I say “see” rather than “meet” because we never actually exchanged any words. But considering that Sal’s dad is an old fashioned man of Mexican heritage, it’s perhaps not surprising that he may not be the most open-minded person towards his son’s boyfriend.
It didn’t soothe me much that this was the first thing I saw upon entering the guest room in which we were staying:
I was tempted to sneak the bullets out, and/or possibly wedge a chair under the door at night, but ultimately neither of those steps were necessary. Dad ignored me, I smiled at him from time to time but otherwise left him alone, and everybody went on about their business.
More impactful to me was how wonderful the rest of his immediate family was to me. His sisters (including two that I didn’t spend any time with last visit) were so warm and kind to me. The older nephews (those in their late teens or early twenties) were lots of fun and great company.
Even the young nieces, nephews, and cousins were cheerful and pleasant to be around. And while the many, many older cousins, aunts, and uncles for the most part didn’t have time to make a strong impression, all were civil and polite at worst, and often full of kind words and big hugs.
It really drove home to me the notion of an extended family. People joke about “the in-laws” but should Sal and I ever choose to get married (love you, New York!) it’s nice to know that there’s a whole group of in-laws out west that I can look forward to having in my life.
I grumpily confessed to Sal that he was making it harder and harder for me to get rid of him.