“Welcome to Buffalo, New York!!!”
That’s the phrase I heard for five days over my holiday break. This Southern boy, who was born in Atlanta and has lived the past 10 years of his life by the beach (in some form) in Florida, was spending Christmas in one of the coldest places in our union. Why was I so out of my comfort zone? I had gone to meet the parents, family and friends of my boyfriend.
It all started so innocently enough. Around October my boyfriend and I were talking about holiday plans. He had a week off from work; I had a couple of weeks off. How were we going to maximize our time together but also see family? I really don’t know how it happened, but all of a sudden we were looking at flights to New York. Now, here’s the part where I feel like I lost my mind a bit. I suggested we should road trip it from St. Petersburg all the way up to Buffalo. My very romantic reasoning: “We are going to be so busy visiting family in your hometown, and when we get back we have friends coming into town for New Years. So, we won’t really have any alone time, but the road trip can be ‘us’ time.”
Ok, let me level with you. There are two camps of people: The road trippers and the get-me-on-a-plane-so-I-can-get-there-in-a-few-hours type of people. After this 19-hour road trip, I can tell you that I am a put-me-on-a-plane type of fella. With that said, the trip was amazing. No fights, no disagreements over where to stop and use the bathroom. I learned from this trip that my boyfriend and I make a pretty good team together. We both discovered that we have bladders of steel and don’t require a bunch of sleep while traveling.
So now, we arrive in New York. It’s time for me to meet the family. I’m not going to lie, I was a little worried. I’ve learned in my years that it’s one thing for parents to hear about their child’s boyfriend or girlfriend but it’s another to see them in person in their living room. I had no clue what to expect. I had one little dirty secret I was hiding and I hoped to dear God that it didn’t come out because I knew it could be a sticking point.
After almost busting my ass on the snow and basically falling into their front door, I had my first in-person introduction to my boyfriend’s parents. His mom was sweet and soft-spoken. His Dad was warm but watchful. I kept saying to myself “Miguel, be yourself. Don’t be weird. Don’t be weird.” Everything was going great until my secret came out.
If you have a friend from New York or if you are from New York, you probably hear the same phrase over and over. “The food here in Florida is just not as good as up North.” I heard that a lot from my boyfriend so I was ready to try this food and see how great it was. We had my favorite – pizza and wings!! The food came, we handed out plates and napkins and then my panic started to creep in. I was going to have to ask for the item that I know would be judged. I leaned over and whispered to my boyfriend, “Do your parents have any ranch?” That was it. My secret was out. I don’t like blue cheese. Actually I hate it. Ranch was a no-no in their household, well practically in all of Buffalo. His Mom heard my whisper and said out loud, “YOU DON’T LIKE BLUE CHEESE?!?!?!?!” My heart sank.
The silence only lasted for two seconds but in my mind I thought five years had passed by. His mom giggled and said they had ranch in the fridge. I slowly connected my stomach and walked over to get my prized possession of ranch. That was the first of many memorable moments of my five days in Buffalo hanging out with my boyfriend’s parents, family and friends.
I was able to introduce his family to some Southern mac & cheese during their Christmas Eve dinner. I bonded over cheese fries with one of his best friends. I got the low down on all the family members from his brother during Christmas. I could not have asked for a better experience immersing myself in his life back home.
So if you have been dating someone for a while and you are afraid to meet the family, be afraid; but go into it with an open mind and open heart. Listening to stories of old days gone by and war stories from my boyfriend’s past was just what I needed to know I had truly found someone special.