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  • I was sitting on the couch with my mother and two of my aunts, and had been waiting for the doorbell to ring for a while now. I knew he should be here soon. It was a New Year’s Day party in her father’s cramped condo. Both sides of the family were shoehorned into the less than spacious living room that flowed into a galley-sized kitchen. It was wall to wall people and noisy. I wondered how Brian would take to the family, this being the first time he had encountered them en masse.

    Though I had met him a few times, I didn’t really have a read on him. He was a bit guarded, not something I objected to, being something of an introvert myself, but I knew this was an important moment in my daughter’s relationship with Brian. Would he like her family? Would they like him?

    Less than two weeks after Amanda had started dating Brian—about a month now—she had arrived at the house with a huge smile on her face, eyes dancing, barely able to contain herself and announced that she thought she might marry this man she had just met. She was smitten, no doubt about that, but I was concerned, not about the quickness of this decision, but the about rightness of it. Was he the one for her? He seemed quiet and my daughter was anything but. If you looked up ‘social animal’ in the dictionary, Amanda’s picture would be there. She has an amazing gift with people and most people love her.

    And it wasn’t just the introvert/extrovert thing. Brian leaned to the right politically, as did most people in the community. I was proud to say that Amanda was more left of center. She had, after all, a gay father and a mother who had not infrequently been described as quirky or eccentric, my own family often not knowing what to make of my concern for social justice issues. Both of us had been social change artists during the seventies. Could Brian accept her? Could she accept him? That would be one test.

    The party today was a test of another sort. He would meet forty new people and be assessed by each and every one of them. Amanda loved and valued her family and they returned her love fiercely. They would not embrace a suitor they considered unworthy of her, who did not cherish her as they did. Could he handle the mini inquisition that awaited him? Did he consider her worth the effort?

    Amanda is a smart young woman. She had lost her attraction to the arrogant bad boys of her late teens and early twenties, the kind whose amazing good looks would eventually dissipate with age, but who would ever cling to the same cocky sense of privilege with women that they had had as young men, not seeming to notice that they were now middle aged and balding. She had been choosing more wisely the past couple of years and I had to trust that Amanda, who had always possessed a certain intuitiveness and wisdom about people, knew what she was doing with Brian. That I had seldom made good choices about men increased my anxiety. I wanted so much more for my daughter than I had been able to claim for myself.

    The doorbell rang and was answered. Brian, at six feet, four inches, filled the door. I could not take my eyes off him as he stepped into the foyer. I watched as he began scanning the rooms for Amanda, moving a few steps to the right each time he ‘cleared’ a section of room. It wouldn’t be hard to find her. With his height and her red hair, it should be only a few more seconds. I knew where she was in the room, and knew that she still had not noticed that he was there.

    Then he saw her. He saw her and his face became that of another man. The slightly nervous person who had been at the door now became the confident lover. The moment he saw her, discovering her anew, tenderness flooded his eyes, tenderness and gratitude and joy and unrestrained love. He said her name, soft, so soft. She turned in his direction and drew him like a beacon. Their bodies touched and one’s hand found the other’s fingertips, their gazes narrowed to include only each other. You could almost hear the gentle lovers’ whispers, the two hearts beating more quickly. I cannot be apart from you they said. You have changed my existence, are now my existence. For you I would do, I would be anything, because you make me more than I have been, better than I thought I could be. One look, seconds only, articulated the entirety of their relationship.

    I watched this and momentarily lost my breath, so naked was the feeling I saw on his face. I let out a sigh, and at the very same moment heard my mother and two aunts let out the same sigh. They had also been watching. They also understood the emotion behind that look; understood and perhaps, remembered.

    I had consciously attempted to raise my daughter with a willingness to give all for love, to be able to accept and survive heartbreak for the chance to be well loved. All any parent wants for their child is someone who loves them as much as they do. This is what I had desired for my daughter—a big love, a monumental love. A man who so cherished her that he could not hide it, nor would want to. For the moment, it was everything. And the future……well, that was of little significance right now.

    In a moment, just one moment, what was truly important had become clear. I relaxed and went to say hello to Brian.
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