29 October 2015

Bringing Home a Boy

You have to understand, relationships pretty much don't go "public" in Malaysia until a couple is planning on getting married someday. Sure, casual dating happens, but people don't tend to announce it. The tight-knit community here means that you don't want to even bother introducing someone special until you're basically sure that they're special enough to spend the rest of your life with.

So, you can imagine that inviting a boy from America to fly to Malaysia to meet your family and all of your friends might be a slightly sensitive undertaking. We weren't engaged yet when Angel bought his plane tickets, or when he arrived. We were expecting to get married, Angel had purchased a ring, and had formally asked my parents permission via email...but we weren't engaged. In spite of that small fact, my family began planning and inviting everyone we knew to an engagement party in honor of Angel and Rachel, to be held on the last Friday of his visit. I was just hoping that nothing about Malaysia or my family would cause him to change his mind once he got there. He proposed two days after he arrived.

 Meeting for the first time after more than three months since his last visit.

He had no idea what he was getting into. First of all, most of our friends here didn't quite believe that his name was Angel. We received several "Congratulations!" cards addressed to Rachel and Andrew. I felt like I was marrying someone else.

He had to simultaneously adjust to life with a LOT of sisters..

And life in the tropics, where a torrential downpour might interrupt a sunny beach trip with no advance warning...

Some were surprised by what Angel looked like. I showed a picture of him to Auntie Letchimi before he arrived, and she was shocked. "You said he was handsome, so I thought he would be tall...with blond hair and blue eyes..." she said, dreamily. Mexican telenovelas actually have a certain fan group over here, and when one of my friends heard that my boyfriend was coming, she got pretty excited, picturing a daytime television star.

Others were surprised by the suddenness. I'm not sure why, because most of the time, people are either single or dating very seriously in Malaysia, so it didn't seem as if the fact that I suddenly had a fiance should have been that surprising. But, at the same time, most of my friend community tends to go out for a long time, years, before actually setting a wedding date. And it's not as common to get married while still in school, as education is really highly valued. We actually seriously contemplated  the idea of heading to the US embassy in KL and getting married ASAP, which would have turned our engagement party into a wedding reception...but we decided that the amount of paperwork involved would probably make it impossible to achieve, and figured that in this one case, it was better to be sensible and just have fun taking Angel sightseeing in Penang. Sometimes I contemplate what a different story that would have made to tell, if we'd been able to go through with our dreamed of emergency international wedding. haha! The Malaysian side of the family would have been so happy--the American side of the family, on the other hand...

Angel was welcomed with open arms into our Malaysian community--he may have been slightly daunted at the tight schedule we kept him on during the time he was here (jet lag or no jet lag), but this was a precious time, and so important to me. I wasn't about to marry anyone who hadn't met my family and didn't even know the first thing about how beautiful and how hard and how real life is here.

{This is Day 30 in my 31 Days Series: 31 Days of Growing Up in Malaysia}


  1. Oh I love this story!!! How precious that he proposed while there! I'm sure your family loved that. African families are the same way - if you are dating someone that you've introduced to the family, you're practically saying "We are likely getting married." Pai's uncle, in fact, already calls me Mrs. . . Haha! I am so loving hearing all about these 31 days in Malaysia! Thank you for sharing all of these fun stories :)

  2. Awwwww, how sweet! That must have been so exciting and daunting.

  3. How cute! Justin came home with me for part of Christmas break, after we had already been dating for only 3 months. He was so nervous although he had already met my family a few times. And, during that time, we decided we wanted to eventually get married, although we didn't get engaged until mid-March

  4. I love that your family started planning an engagement party before he'd proposed! If that didn't scare him, you know he's a keeper!

  5. Such a great story! You've found a great man!

  6. Sounds wonderful. Congrats on your wonderful engagement. ;)