Throughout most of my life, I’ve never actually wondered how my parents fell in love. I don’t know why, but it was only recently that I asked them to tell me the story of how it happened.
I’ve heard bits and pieces throughout my childhood — my dad immigrated to America from Taiwan while my mom emigrated from Hong Kong and they ended up working at the same bank together. While working at United National Bank, somehow something sparked between them. They worked at the loan department of the bank, where my mom was a loan processor and my dad was the loan department manager.
“Though he is very hardworking he yelled when things aren’t done the right way,” my mom said of my dad as her boss more than 30 years ago. “I came home crying to grandma so many times and she constantly asked me why I liked him.”
Their first “date” started when my mom and a couple of other co-workers at the bank planned to go bowling together. They were supposed to go out as a group but nobody else showed up. They spent a lot of time together that night and realized that they really liked each other. They started dating shortly after but kept it a secret at work. They recalled the thrill of clandestine meetings, the exchange of knowing glances across the room and the speculation of “do you think anybody knows?”on the phone at night.
Even today, my dad has a different personality when it comes to work. He’s considerate, funny and kind when we are at home. But when it comes to work, he’s cold, demanding and short-tempered. I find it extremely amusing to imagine my parents in a work environment together, with this type of dynamic, especially since my mom calls all the shots at home.
When I asked my parents about their first date, my dad didn’t remember what happened, but my mom did. It made me feel sad that he didn’t remember. How could someone be married and not remember something as significant as their first date? My mom said that after 28 years of marriage, things change and a lot of things aren’t worth being nitpicky over anymore.
She told me that it’s impossible to expect love to last forever. She said to me that even when I get married someday, I should never build my life around somebody in a way that makes me dependent on their affection for survival. She said it isn’t so much about never trusting them, but more about being able to derive self-worth from within and not another person. I can only hope to one day be as resilient and independent as she.
Everybody wants to believe that their parents are still as madly in love as they were when they met, but that isn’t realistic and it isn’t what always happens.
We read novels of timeless love and epic grandeur and wish that we could have that for ourselves. Once in awhile, we come across people who have somehow lit the match of love, with their relationship still burning just as brightly after decades past. We watch in awe at the rarity. We think that they are the lucky ones.
I used to believe that the only sort of love worth having was romantic and passionate, that the person that I imagine someday marrying must love me same way until we grow old — but then I realized that love exists in so many ways. Love is so fleeting — it doesn’t have to be wild and all-consuming in order to be extraordinary. It could be a steady hand to hold, a listening ear on a bad day, someone who chooses to try. Companionship and consistency is just as rare and valuable, if not more, than lust and desire.
Even though my parents’ love has changed, I feel glad to have been able to help them revisit their beginnings.
I am half of two amazing people that both really love me and the greatest love of all is the one that they gave to me.
I think that makes me the lucky one.
Originally published in Daily Trojan