Last night, my boyfriend walked through my door and faced the Adames-Villafaña-Quesada clan. He sat there, on the loud orange couch, speaking of his love for his Dominican roots in his rapid tongue. Tiguere, chamaquito, carajito; el rio, la playa, El Malecon, la isla: all words exchanged between he and my stepfather, the Quesada of the bunch.
Dinner ready, my boyfriend continued to prove his Dominicaness when he asked me to serve him a plate. I shook my head jokingly, knowing very well that I would. As much as I am American, I am as attentive and catering as a campesina from El Cibao. Red beans heaped atop white rice with steak on the side and a glass of water to boot. My man smiled as I set his meal on the table with napkin, fork, and knife. I beamed, happy to be his little lady.
My mother commenced her polite grilling. Where is your mother from in Dominican Republic? Santiago, he replied. When did you move to this country? I was born here but was raised there with my family and moved back when I was 12, he replied. What did you say you did again? And on and on it went.
Once the meals were gulped down, the interrogation finished and Mami went to wash the dishes. I grabbed the bottle of Moscata I had bought earlier; a strategic move to ease the possible tension. We sipped and continued chatting, mostly about the Dominican Republic and the changes the country has undergone. Things were going smoothly.
Then the phone rang.
I peeked at the television and from the number that appeared on the screen knew it was La Capitan. She had to leave before my boyfriend had arrived, but prior to marching through the door, baby Nila in tow, asked me to take a photo of him. What is this my high school prom? I exclaimed. No, I just want to put a face to his name, she responded, pushing the issue. Why is everyone acting like I’ve never had a boyfriend? I’m not a virgin. I’m 32. It’s ridiculous, I huffed. My sister let it go but continued to call throughout the night. And there she was again, speaking to my mother in the kitchen, asking for her opinion and details, I’m sure. But I didn’t care. All that mattered was that mi amor and I were together, a united front against the Adames-Villafaña-Quesada clan. We had won the Quesada over but had yet to make an impact on Adames-Villafaña. My mother is a tough cookie. Sweet on the inside but tough nonetheless. And, later on, as mi amor and I cuddled on the couch to watch The Karate Kid (in the living room, of course) it became apparent that Mami still sees me as the 14 year old girl who had yet to kiss a boy. As Mami opened the door and strolled from bedroom to living room to bathroom to living room to bedroom, I knew this battle would continue. Gonzalez-Porter would have to keep breaking that barrier, if only for a shot at true happiness.