Young Man Went West #39: Meet the Bautistas–Part One

Note: This note got pretty lengthy, even for me, so to spare you a dauntingly dense field of text to tackle, I split this post into two parts. The story will shortly after with #40. – AR

Before last week, I’d never spent quality time with Jenn’s parents. Before last week, I’d only met up with them a handful of times for brief small talk over casual meals. Before last week, that small talk was always awkward.

That’s because, before last week, Jenn’s parents did not know of our plans to move to New York.

Being a more recent college graduate, Jenn was still juggling her post-college life decisions, e.g. teaching abroad, applying to grad school, figuring out what she’d want to study if she were to go to grad school, and so on. Every time an opportunity opened, closed, or altered, she’d also have to figure out the time and manner in which to let her parents know. I, therefore, did not want to be the messenger before she was ready to send the message, so I kept my conversations with her parents short and off-topic.

That is until last week when she finally revealed to them our awesome plan. Overall, it went pretty well. They were fine with her not teaching in Korea, postponing grad school, and moving across the country. They only thing they weren’t sure about was me.

Jenn’s parents didn’t dislike me, they just didn’t know me. How could they? The few times we had met, we both avoided real conversation. Now that the New York plan was out in the open, we could communicate freely. Or so I hoped.

Shortly after Jenn told her parents about New York, they invited me to join them for pizza at a nearby restaurant. Along the way, I practiced my responses to their probable questions about our plans, but the dinner turned out to be the normal stilted talk of before. There was a little discussion about New York, but it came and went with a fleeting speed. Mostly we just chewed food.

I found out afterward from Jenn that her parents just simply didn’t want to interrogate me over dinner, a notion I appreciate but would not have minded. I mean, I was prepped and ready! I had a cache of well-formed reasons, motives, and plans. Instead, all they asked me was if the Times Square Bubba Gump really needed another server.

I guess Jenn’s dad felt as unsatisfied with our pizza dinner as I did, so he had Jenn ask me if I’d like to help him repair his roof. Though Jenn thought it an insulting request, I was ecstatic! I’d be doing manual labor, which I actually like to do. . . on occasion. We’d also be having lunch and discussing photography as well. What’s more, Jenn wasn’t even going to be there; she had to work from nine to four that day. For the first time during my relationship with Jenn, I felt like her family wanted to get to know me. I jumped on the invitation to spend some quality time with them.

Mr. Bautista picked me up around ten in the morning on Sunday. Even though this was the first time I’d seen him without Jenn around, it somehow already felt less awkward than all of our other encounters. It may be because we had something to talk about besides me and my relationship with his daughter. It may be because I felt needed to fill a void his children couldn’t, i.e. walking on rooftops and lugging buckets around. Most likely, though, I probably felt comfortable right away because I knew I had all day to make an impression instead of just a single meal period.

I know that feel, bro.

To be continued. . .

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