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We were sitting on a bench overlooking the harbour, eating fish and chips.  It was a warm, sun drenched evening. He asked me to marry him. I agreed.

We met during the 2000 Sydney Olympics. He had arranged a group of people to see Kieren Perkins swim on the big screen that was set up in Darling Harbour. A mutual friend invited me to the picnic. I went, saw a spot on a spare blanket, kicked my shoes off and sat down. It was supposed to be his spot, on his blanket. Only I didn’t know it then. He came. I looked at him. He looked at me… and  walked straight on by. That was it. Our first meeting.

As time went by the circle of invited friends grew smaller until he rang me up one day and asked me out on a date. He had free tickets to a movie screening at a park. It was some movie on surfing. We missed half of it because we got lost and ended up wandering around in the dark for a while. He was apologetic and a little embarrassed. I didn’t mind. It was nice.

I soon discovered he was funny and kind. Overtime I saw he was good with children. He adored his niece and I knew he was going to be a great father. He also never gave up on an argument. He would see it through until it was resolved and we’d part knowing a little more of each other.

But while we were getting ready for the wedding, picking out invitation cards and flowers, my parents were losing their minds with worry. They were about to see their Korean daughter marry a white Australian man with little cross cultural experience. Someone who had never visited Korea, who didn’t eat what we ate, or understand what we honoured.

“The rate of divorce among interracial couples is so high,” they insisted. “Have you thought about how it’s going to work years from now?”

They had heard horror stories of ruined relationships and were concerned this was going to end in disaster. I fought hard for him during our engagement. I was not going to let him go. It was my first big, life changing decision and I was determined to make it. This was going to be my decision. My commitment. And he was someone worth fighting for.

My husband is a good man. I knew it. It just took a while for my parents to know it too. On the day of the wedding, they relented and with a hug, told him to call them by their names. It is our custom to never call our elders by their names. It is a sign of great disrespect and dishonour. But my parents understood that their way wasn’t his way.

He refused, and chose to honour my mother and father by calling them “ohmoni” and “ahboji” instead.

Years later I asked him what it was that attracted me to him.

“It’s your hands,” he responded. “They are small and fit perfectly in mine.”


Via the Daily Prompt: Partner

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August 2017
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