Mom: That part was a struggle for me. Him being a northerner and not emotional, and me being a southerner and very emotional.
Dad: She wanted me to talk more.
Mom: He was so quiet, it drove me fucking nuts. Sometimes I’d make scenes just so he’d say something.
I asked my mom if she felt like that was an effective strategy.
Mom: Absolutely not! It never worked! (She laughs. A lot.) But, I had to be myself; and myself was more dynamic in that expressive way. I had the opportunity to be that passionate yelling person without my partner freaking out on me, allowing me. I had to also understand and allow his quietude.
Dad: Leyla was extremely accepting of me taking her to Denmark. Couldn’t speak the damn language. I went to school right away. I left at 8am and didn’t come back ’til 5. She was left alone in a house, I don’t even think we had a TV or a radio. We didn’t even have a phone to begin with. You were simply left alone day after day. We were certainly not rich. Actually, I’m kind of surprised that you stayed and hung out with it.
Is it mean if I admit that I’m surprised, too?
Mom: You’re together to grow. We allowed each other to have our faults, to have both our strengths and our weaknesses.
For years, my father drove her to weekly meditation classes. He’d wait in the car. I asked my mother if she still felt supported even though he would never join in.
Mom: Of course I felt supported. I mean he was driving me there. And willing to sit there and sit there. And he didn’t want to come in. And it didn’t piss me off. Because I really believe in freedom of choice. That’s what I’m saying. I felt safe and secure. From the beginning. We one hundred percent accepted each other. Without knowing what exactly we were accepting even.
Dad: You have to have tolerance. It can be tough. But if you love the person, it’s less tough. You can still bitch about it, but you don’t bitch as much.
Love means a limited amount of bitching. I will include that in my wedding vows.
Praying to every God that ever did or didn’t exist that I wasn’t about to uncover something awful, I asked if monogamy had been difficult for them.
Dad: It was not difficult for me. I mean of course I was a bit of a flirt.
Mom laughs and playfully hits him.
Dad: (Naughtily) What? But it wasn’t that difficult. I mean I never fucked anybody. Smooching a little bit. But without sincerity. Only at social events, parties.
Smooching at parties in front of your wife? Explain please.
Mom: When we first moved to Denmark, they were so much more sexually liberated, it was very common for them to share partners. It was very challenging for me. I had to learn that is was okay. His smooching or whatever.
I try to adopt her level of maturity and ask if she ever smooched in the same way.
I took that as a no.
Mom: Let me put it this way. Because I trusted so much, because I understood that there was a different kind of sexuality, that there was a different life there, I don’t know how I did, that this smooching or this flirting didn’t necessarily mean that I was being cheated on. I wasn’t threatened by it. I mean. I was confused a little bit, and I didn’t quite understand, but it was their culture and I knew it wasn’t going to be consummated in, what’s the word…