This Chinese new year’s gathering, we are short of one. My cousin recently got married to an American whom she met on one of her work trips there. They apparently fell in love over the past year and he soon proposed. Of course she accepted and she’s moved there to be with him.
While surprised at this turn of events I’m happy for her. What was funny was the drama surrounding her departure. All along her family kept her engagement & impending departure under wraps while she applied for a special fiancee visa. It was only after she got it that they broke the news to the rest of the family.
My brother was the one who told me.
Brother: did you hear the gossip in the family? the SHOCKING NEWS?
Me: wut? Who’s underaged and pregnant?
Bro: no one!
Me: someone just came out & said he’s gay?
Me: then what?! Someone going to jail?
Bro: no! Our cousin is eloping!!
Me: wut? Eloping? Why eloping? Wait a minute. If she’s eloping, how come you know?
Turns out that after my aunt told her sisters, my mother decided my cousin was eloping rather than getting married / relocating. She will do only the customary tea ceremony and that’s it. No fanfare, no Chinese dinner. Then she will move to New Mexico to be with him in 2 weeks. actually now that I think of it, I don’t remember attending any tea ceremony so perhaps that part hasn’t happened yet.
My mother was distraught. She felt disappointed that they didn’t give her ample warning to accept the news. Hence when she told my brother the news, it became an “elopement”. I had to roll my eyes at the drama. I didn’t understand the melodrama considering that my mother wasn’t close to my cousin at all, since they meet only once in a few months during family gatherings, unlike the close relationship my other aunt has with my cousin as they hang out every weekend. She also felt that my cousin should have been properly married before she left. This gave my brother and I the cue never to elope or we’d have to face her wrath.
I however was rather disappointed. to me, shocking news is when your 2 lesbian friends decided to have a baby together and 1 of them got herself artificially inseminated with a donor sperm. a white male donor. they now have 2 kids. true story.
Anyway, we had a little lunch gathering at her parent’s home the weekend before she flew off. she showed me her passport where her visa proudly pronounced her Fiancee of David something something (he had a CSI Miami like name). There were photographs of them in happy couple moments around the house. there was a bit of crying at the end which made me glad they thew the party at home.
That was a few months ago. Yesterday, when my relatives came over to my place, the sister of the elopee skyped my cousin all the way in New Mexico. The family gathered around to wish her gong xi gong xi Happy New Year! while she waved at us from the freezing -14C winter. she seemed well and safe, which gladdens me as I was half afraid her husband might have chopped her into pieces by now. Although from her screaming in the background whenever he brought out his pet lizards to show us, I’m not sure about the safe bit (gosh! who keeps lizards as PETS?)
A relative also residing in U.S. had sent her a CNY gift pack so she proudly waved around the nian gao (brown sticky sweet rice cake) she fried. We asked if her husband liked it and he obediently said he did, what with my cousin standing at his ear. We spoke to her husband in English while switching to a mix of Mandarin and Cantonese with her as she misses blabbering in these 2 languages over there. she has no one in that little town that speaks any of it.
She took us on a tour of her apartment while we took her on a tour of the CNY spread on the table she’s missing. we soon waved goodbye to the couple as it was close to 3am their side. I can’t help but think that from now on, our CNY celebrations are going to be a little different.