Until she met my father, my mother had never touched blonde hair. She said that for the first months they were together, my dad’s fair skin and straight hair were completely alien to her. It was a continuing marvel to her that hair could grow like that, silky and ruler-straight. She grew up in a family of people who all had olive toned skin, dark, coarse, curly hair and deep, rich brown eyes (there was one uncle who had blue eyes, thanks to a recessive gene planted by a pillaging Cossack generations before, but he was an anomaly). Before my father, the men she dated and almost married had been Jewish like her, their colors, hues and textures familiar, comfortable.
She told me this last night, as we chatted, me on my bed in Philadelphia, she on her couch in Portland, the 3000 miles between us inconsequential. This revelation was prompted by my admission that when it comes to dating, I have two types of guys to whom I’m attracted, and they are represented by the visible ethnicities of my parents. I am typically drawn to guys who are Jewish or look like they could be, with the dark, curly hair and ready-to-tan skin of my mom or guys who have the blonde hair/blue eyed combo that my dad embodies.
Once I got over being stunned that she had never gotten up close to hair like mine until she was 22, I realized that in some ways, I am just like her. I am drawn to that which is familiar in the initial unknown, and so I look for guys who have physical indicators that superficially tells me that we might have something in common. I guess I’m just lucky to have a more diverse parentage than she did, my comfort area is broader. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t still end up with someone who initially is unlike me. I am grateful that I live in more diverse times and that I have the opportunity to find someone whose content works best with my own regardless of the outside packaging.