I won’t lie — the first time Argentinian Jorge brought up the idea to go meet his family for a multi-week trip, I said no.
I didn’t even apologize. I just knew it — I wasn’t freaking ready. We’d only been dating a few months at that time. The thought of meeting his parents and siblings gave me bowel tingles, but not the good kind.
So we let it lie, and several months down the road, he brought it up again.
This time, I said yes. And though the bowel tingles accompanied me up until the day we made it to his tiny pueblito hometown, I managed to meet and greet and even converse with every single member of his family.
All 156 of them because, you know, he comes from rural Argentinian countryside land.
OK, OK — 156 is an exaggeration, but his 17 nieces and nephews? That’s a real figure.
Meeting the family is a big event for any couple, anywhere in the world. But what made our international Meet-And-Greet all the more fascinating was that his family are countryfolk. Born and raised on the farm, his home didn’t have electricity until he was born. By even the laxest modern standards, that is extremely tardy.
On top of that, meeting countryfolk in any part of of the world, even your home country, is difficult because they typically come with accents. At the risk of over-generalizing, those accents also come with less experience dealing with outsiders.
And in his case, I was more than an outsider. I was a freaking white alien with dreadlocks with a strange Spanish accent and a mother tongue nobody even knew how to articulate.
Hi, Jorge’s family! I’m Shannon, but call me literally anything you want. Shanna, Shan, Sharon, even just Shah — that works too.
By the end of our week with his family, one person could almost pronounce my name, and that was the 3 year old nephew that stuck to me like glue.
Needless to say, knowing certain things about his family in advance made the anticipation worse. But once we were there, and I had been fully appraised by the clan, things flowed well. Smoothly. His mom even made me special vegetables because my ex-vegetarian intestines can’t do the Argentinian Tradition of meat 15 times a day. What helped ease my anticipation was knowing these indisputable facts:
- I have my best friend and my lover at my side to guide me through any uncomfortable moments where his dad repeats something to me three times and I still don’t get it
- His family loves him so much and therefore they love me already
- His family wants to see him happy and knows he his happy with me therefore they are already happy with me
- My presence in his tiny hometown is a chance to teach people about where I come from, and show them that relationships like ours really can work (and be really fun!)
As in most instances of multi-month dread leading up to a single event, everything worked out totally fine and we laughed about how scared I had been before going. In fact, we’re gearing up to go visit his side of the family again very soon.
This time, though, with considerably more calm and a set of nieces and nephews that have had plenty of time to practice that ‘SH’ sound.