It has been kind of a hectic month. The second weekend of June I found myself in Detroit for a Bat Mitzvah with my boyfriend’s family and the following weekend one of my oldest friends got married in Montreal after about two years of wedding planning. Both experiences were thought provoking and surprisingly helped my boyfriend and I come to a healthy middle ground. Kind of. At least it got us talking. A lot.
I arrived to Montreal on Thursday morning (although my friend was suffering from bride-brain and totally forgot) and quickly realized I’d be observing Shabbat in foreign surroundings. I may have previously mentioned that Shabbat is my absolute favorite. Generally we have a bottle of wine (or grape juice) at home and pick up a delicious challah from Publix just down the street, light candles, say the blessings over bread and wine, and enjoy the moment after what usually feels like an exceedingly long week. However, I knew there was no Publix in Canada, let alone in downtown Montreal. After brunch, my accommodating Catholic friends happily offered to walk with me to the nearest supermarket. We walked to the bakery aisle, everything was in French, nothing looked like delicious, braided, eggy goodness. I walked over to an employee, smiled, and asked in English if they had challah. He looked at me for a second, processing my request, then walked away. I was slightly puzzled, but followed. He repeated the word challah under his breath as he looked through the mountains of bread. Challah, challah, challah. Then he turned to me and whispered “no” before he departed. The three of us stood in slight confusion. The bride asked the status of the search. I wasn’t sure, but told her it didn’t look good. Still, I was in Montreal, they have more bread than I know what to do with. So I went on my own search and very quickly I found what looked like mini sesame seed challah in bags of eight. I read the label, my French is nonexistent but it essentially read “egg bread,” much like in Publix. I felt triumphant, and taught the groom the blessing over bread. We shared the mini challahs throughout the wedding weekend and it gave a delicious sense of comfort. It’s also great to get to share something that’s become so significant to me.
Now, to the emotionally heavy part of the weekend(s). The pinnacle was my friend’s wedding. And the weekend in Detroit. It is hard to explain. The weekend in Detroit led to a lot of discussion about our future. It was probably because we were amidst family and the daughter of a good friend of the family had just gotten engaged. I, being somewhat of a gamophobiac (I kid), was pleasantly surprised at how my boyfriend so calmly and reasonably approached the topic.
Sometimes I am taken aback by the maturity of the relationship I have with my boyfriend. Although we are both relatively young and have only been dating for about two years we are serious about ourselves, our lives, and each other. Although it took some time we talk about absolutely everything. Although it once was scary, and sometimes hurtful, we are honest and vulnerable with one another. Although life is not always easy we are learning and growing together. For some of this I can take credit, but for a lot of it I must give credit where it is due. My boyfriend is amazing.
Sure, he may leave socks on the floor, forget to do dishes, or never notice when things need cleaning (and I may sometimes remind him in not the nicest of ways), but I am thankful for having him in my life. I never thought I’d have what we have. I don’t think I ever wanted it or thought it possible, but our relationship feels like a daily blessing. Even on the hard days, days that he is inexplicably cranky or days I am hung up on something relatively irrelevant, I feel blessed. As we grow together there are kinks to work out, but he is exceptionally good at understanding, communicating and compromising. I have a relatively volatile Cuban temper, I am often set in my ways, but the combination of the love we have for each other and his exceedingly rational nature helps us to always find a solution we are both happy with.
Take for example the topic of the last two weekends: Marriage. For a while now I have seen my life tied to his, but for me that didn’t mean marriage. He, on the other hand, has on numerous occasions asserted the importance of that vow before “God, the State, and our families.” I know, I am a very lucky woman. He has the values and morals of a man you only read about. So when I playfully vowed to go with him to City Hall, he was not amused. I retorted that City Hall was a fair compromise, we could even have our families there. However, despite his nature, he was not compromising on two of three. I offered a beach option and he snickered. To him we have to get married in “shul,” there is no other option. Marriage is the one subject, so far, my boyfriend is surprisingly unwilling to compromise on.
Attending my friend’s wedding was surprisingly significant for my relationship. I expected to be moved by the fact that I was attending the wedding of the tiny girl in glasses who saved my life in the first grade. And I was moved. I was moved to share the experience with her family and loved ones, I was moved to tears when her husband to be saw her walking down the aisle and cried, I was moved to see them before me as I read from Song of Songs awaiting the start of their new lives together. I had no idea my boyfriend was also moved to tears. When we met back up at the reception we were on the same page, we wanted what they had just experienced. He told perfect strangers that he couldn’t wait to marry me and the truth is neither can I.
So we are not even engaged, but almost daily we plan some aspect of our inevitable wedding. His lack of flexibility on this matter has forced me to understand his (and his mother’s) stance on the matter and has pushed me to compromise. My friend’s wedding showed me the beauty in sharing that moment with loved ones. How can I not relent when all he wants is to spend his life with me? When he wants to make this very serious vow before our loved ones?
photo credit to a fellow bridesmaid