She hated running through Cambridge. She was worried some friend might see her or, even worse, one of her professors as she ran down the brick sidewalks with white pages flinging in her hand. Everyone knows what that means. You’re that type of student, the procrastinator who really presses the limits. When, in reality, it just so happens that an extra episode of Glee and a two-hour break to buy a burrito around the corner are perfectly logical steps before starting a 10 page paper the afternoon before it is due—at least, that’s what she thought.
With short bouts of running interlaced with awkwardly disguised speed walking, she finally opened the door to the Harvard Expository Writing Office. She checked her phone.
Six minutes until the deadline. Sweet.
She slowly began walking the hallway and spotted a sign with an arrow pointing further on—“Professor Mailboxes.” It was dead silent in the office. Most of the lights were off. She passed a secretary who was re-shelving books and didn’t notice her come in. Continuing at her lessened pace, she took one last glimpse over her paper. It was her baby, her newly born child that took 10 hours of labor to pop out, kept her awake into the middle of the night, and for a thing so light in weight, it sure had great importance. It was her first college paper, her first Harvard paper.
She was the only one standing in front of the mailboxes, her heart pounding—perhaps because she just ran from her dorm or because this was a highlight moment in her academic timeline. Suddenly—whack! The main door to the office was flung open and a guy with a similar set of white pages in his hands jolted up the stairs in the wrong direction. She chuckled to herself.
She was so absorbed in re-reading her essay that she almost overlooked that he had correctly found the mailboxes and was kneeling next to her, trying to shove his loose papers into the narrow slot belonging to his professor.
She glanced down. It’s not even stapled, she thought. She was fully watching him now, as he bent over trying to use his finger to ease his baby into its crib. You can’t turn your first paper in without staples! What about first impressions? She waited a couple more seconds. I should probably tell him something.
“Hey, don’t you want to staple that?” she asked him.
The guy looked up at her, then smiled. She smiled back. At that moment, she would have never guessed she was smiling at the man she would be madly in love with for the next three years.
I am in an inter-racial relationship. I am black, a Haitian-American from California, with a love for guitar music and red velvet cupcakes. He is white, from the Czech Republic, with a (sexy) European accent and an undying love for dance music. Before we started dating, before we even met, society had made its own assumptions about us as individuals apart from one another. We all know about the stereotypes, the prejudices, the silent racism, classism, education-ism. What is more elusive, however, is what happens when all these ‘-isms’ are forced to collide; not in hatred, not in war, not in protest---in love.
As such, being in an inter-racial relationship has taught me that the world is often much more confused than we think it is. When we pass through the streets, holding hands, giving kisses on each other’s cheeks, we can spot the longer looks we get from those passing by. They are not always looks of disgust, of anger or fear; nor are they always looks of excitement, acceptance, or happiness. They are just looks—longer ones. As a psychology major, I’ve read enough studies about child cognitive development to know that people tend to look longer at things that catch their attention—be it beauty or, as in our case, the unexpected, intriguing, unusual things.
For some, a relationship characterized as “unusual” is one to avoid. If it’s uncommon, it can’t be right. Yet for our relationship, being “unusual” is a blessing and a curse, though more of the former. On one side, it is often the most difficult hurdle to overcome when out in public. On the other hand, it serves to bring us even closer together, to support and stand up for one another and, in the end, feel all the more special because we are fighting for something beautiful—something the world is strangely confused about.