"My parents are coming to town and I would like you to meet them." Sasha said over breakfast the next morning. I felt a mixture of excitement and fear of the prospects of meeting the two of them. I knew they had more money that I would ever make in a lifetime and I knew that his mother had some issues, but other than that I wanted to make a good impression on them. "Ok, wow, of course. When are they coming?" "They are flying in tomorrow, and I thought we could go out to dinner with them together." "Yes, that is great. I was going to go out with Megan tomorrow, but I will just tell her, that something more important has come up." I smiled. "You do that babe."
I couldn't stop fiddling around with my dress while we were waiting in the hotel lobby that Sasha's parents were staying in. Why they didn't want to stay with their son while they were in town was beyond me but I understood as soon as I entered the hotel. It was a five star property in the center of Munich with high ceilings and a pompous bar with wait staff wearing white gloves and bow ties. I could spot his mother right away as she exited the elevator. She was a tiny and fragile looking woman with light brown hair clasped into a short pony tail. She was dressed in expensive looking jeans, light blue loafers and a matching blouse. His father was the opposite of her. He was a big guy with gray hair and a butch attitude. Sasha looked more like his mother than his father. They walked up to us and greeted Sasha in Russian. His father gave him a short hug and he bent down to kiss his mother on both cheeks. It felt like hours until they finally saw me, a smile frozen on my face. His mother said something in Russian to him and I couldn't be sure if it was nice or her telling me she hated me, since to my ears everything in Russian sounded cold and angry. Finally she greeted me in English. "It's so nice to finally meet you. The first girl that Alexander introduces to his parents." She kissed me on both cheeks and motioned for he husband to do the same. I was confused and tried not to show it. Hadn't Sasha told me, that he had almost been engaged to someone. It was hard to believe that his parents had never met her. I decided I would let it go for now, maybe his mother just wanted to make me feel special.
Dinner was amazing as usual, when we went to a restaurant that Sasha had chosen for us. I couldn't believe that the tiny portions they gave us would ever fill me up, but with each course and each new glass of wine i was more satisfied. Sasha and his parents had been talking in Russian mostly and I felt a little left out, but after all they hadn't seen each other in quite a while. They had never addressed me directly so I was a little surprised when his mother put her hand on mine and told me "I am so glad he met you. He finally calls us more often." I glanced at him quickly but he was in deep conversation with his father about something. "Aw, thank you, that is so sweet of you." "No problem darling. We were really curious about what kind of person you were." "Oh I can imagine, you always want to know what kind of woman your son will end up dating. I absolutely understand." "No it was more because we weren't sure what kind of person could love someone like him."
I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. How could any mother say something like this about her own son? This wasn't right. I wanted to reach over to him and hug him so tight so I could protect him from her. She must have noticed the look on my face because she smiled and said "Don't look so shocked. I am not a monster. I just know my son very well." I smiled uncomfortably at her, thinking that she didn't know him at all.
I wanted to blame her confession on her cold Russian mentality or her not being a native speaker but I couldn't help but feel shaken by what she had said to me. I tried to find my way back into the conversation with Sasha and his dad but I felt her eying me occasionally and I could sense that she was aware of my disapproval. When we were finished with dinner Sasha announced that he was looking forward to going out with them again on the weekend and that he was really happy I would join them. He hadn't asked me yet, but even though I felt uncomfortable around his mother I felt this to be a good sign that she didn't hate me too much. At least not yet.
"That went well." he said to me when we got to his apartment later that night. "They really liked you." "Really? I couldn't tell." He wrapped his arms around my hips and kissed me. "Of course, how could they not love you, when I love you more than I love them?"
We met his parents for breakfast at their hotel the next day and after that they wanted to go shopping with Sasha to get him some new clothes. I found it odd, that they hadn't even asked to see his new place yet and they weren't at all interested in anything that was happening in his life or my life for that matter. We went to shops that I had never been to before and the more price tags I checked, the less I felt like I belonged anywhere near here. Sasha seemed so at ease, picking clothes out for himself and occasionally pointing out stuff that he thought I should buy for myself. He knew I couldn't afford any of this stuff, so usually he would point, have me try it on and then buy it for me but here he made sure that his mom believed that this was the kind of place I usually shopped at myself.
He was different around his parents, I just couldn't really point out in what way exactly. At around 1, his dad got a phone call and decided that he wanted to go back to the hotel to take care of some business and Sasha and his mom thought it would be a great idea to have lunch there as well. I was still pretty full from breakfast but I went along anyways. "Would you like a glass of champagne?" she asked me. i wasn't sure what the protocol was but I said yes, figuring that this was the way Russians were. She ordered one for me and a chamomile tea for herself. Now I felt a little ridiculous and looked at Sasha who apparently didn't pick up on any of this. He ordered a Gin and Tonic and had almost finished it by the time our starters and his father arrived back at the table. "What are we celebrating?" his dad asked, motioning for the waiter to bring him a glass of champagne as well, and finally one for his wife. Sasha ordered another Gin and Tonic. Sasha smiled at me and took my hand in his, squeezing it twice. "Well, it's not official yet, but I thought that this would be a good time to ask and well, tell you at the same time." My stomach clenched. I hoped he wouldn't propose to me just yet but I was sure he was capable of anything. His parents seemed to be as nervous as I was. "I thought that it would be great if Emma could move in with me." I gasped for air but his parents seemed relieved. Why did he never talk to me about these things with me before he said them out loud. "So, what do you say babe?" "I, uhm, I am not sure what to say. I mean, we haven't talked about his yet." I could immediately sense that this was not the answer he was hoping for. His hands started shaking and he spilled some of his Gin and Tonic on the white table cloth. "I mean, I would love to, it was just a little sudden" I quickly said and I could feel his hand tighten around the glass. I looked at the table and played with the napkin in my lap. When I met his eyes, I smiled at him and he finally began to relax a little. "Well that is wonderful" Sasha's father raised his glass and his wife followed suit. I toasted with them and took a big sip of my champagne, letting the alcohol cloud what just happened just for a little while.
As we spent most of the weekend with Sasha's parents and he was oddly quiet in the evenings we didn't speak about my moving in until Monday after our German class. Since we had started dating we arrived at the class together, sat next to each other and left class together as well and I barely spoke to the others anymore. Even during break time Sasha kept me busy with getting coffee or making out in the break room. We drove to my apartment quietly and I was getting more and more nervous about what was going to happen. By the time I put the keys into the door my hands were trembling so bad that I almost missed the keyhole. He noticed and took the keys from me "Here, let me do it." I stepped back and let him enter first. "Would you like something to drink?" "In a little bit, thank you." I wanted to keep my head clear for a change. He took a beer out of the fridge and placed himself on my bed. "Why have you been so quiet in the past days?" he asked me. How he made this about me, I didn't know but I was sure that i had been the one blabbering about all kinds of stuff the entire time, while he had shut me out most of the time. "I wasn't quiet. i felt like you had something on your mind." "Yes I have Emma." "Ok, and what is it?" "Well I asked you to move in with me, and you didn't seem to happy about it." He took a swig of his beer and started peeling off the label. "Sasha, you kind of sprung this on me. Of course I would like to live with you. I was just a little surprised, that is all." "Yeah but it didn't seem like it was a good surprise, that is all I am saying." "No it was, it would have been a little better, if it hadn't been in front of your parents, but generally it was." I sat down next to him and took the beer from his hands and put it on the table. "You know, there is not many people that love me the way I am. There is not many people that I would let into my home, but you are different. I feel like you are my savior, you know?" What kind of savior could I be if I always made him so unhappy? "I know, but you have to trust me, that I love you and that I will be there for you ok?" "Ok." I was happy to see him smile again. "So when do you want to move in then?" "I am not sure, I would have to talk to my parents and let them know, and probably also my aunt and uncle." "So, next month?" It was only the 3rd so I said: "Sounds good to me."
When we went to bed I couldn't fall asleep for hours. Sasha was snoring, but that was not the point. I just couldn't figure out how to tell my parents that I was moving in with someone that I had just met, for the first time in my life and worst of all, that I hadn't even told them about.
Sasha left early in the morning to go to work. I hadn't slept much at all and I felt drained. Everytime I had managed to fall asleep weird dreams had shaken me, in each of them I was running away from someone or something. My courses started at 10, but I couldn't go. I wanted to call my parents as soon as they woke up and tell them about Sasha. I would tell them that I was moving in next time. One step at a time. I have no recollection of what I did until 3 o clock, but when my mom finally picked up the phone I was a nervous wreck. I didn't want her to know though. "Good morning mom, how are you all doing?" I could hear my mom bustling in the kitchen, probably cleaning up after breakfast, with the phone tucked between her ear and her shoulder. "I'm good sweetie. It's nice to hear you, it's been a while." I bit my lip. That was true. I had avoided my parents as much as I had avoided Vicky but at least I had kept touch with them by e-mail. "I know, I have been busy with University." "I figured, honey. Don't you have a course right now?" "Uhm, yes, but it got cancelled." This woman remembered everything. We talked about all sorts of trivial stuff until I couldn't take it anymore. "Mom, I have some news." "Ok, should I be sitting down for this?" She asked concerned. "No, no it's good news. Well for me at least." "Ok?" "I met someone." Just like Vicky my mother was silent for a while. "That's good I guess." "You guess?" "Well, given the circumstances, yes. Who is he?" "He is in my language course and he is wonderful. He is working here in Munich." "Where is he from?" I hesitated, I wasn't sure what my mom would say if I told her where he was born. "He is Russian." Silence again. "Mom?" "I am here sweetie. It's all just a lot to digest. I mean, a couple of month ago you didn't want to leave at all. You wanted to marry Joey." I flinched at the sound of his name. "and then you broke up with him, from one day to the next and now you are dating some Russian kid. I don't know." "Mom, he's not some guy. He is really sweet and wonderful to me, and he really loves me." "Love? How long have the two of you been together?" "That's not the point mom, the point is that you should be happy for me. Can you do that?" "Of course I can, but I am also concerned." "Don't be mom, he is good for me." I didn't want to talk about it anymore. I could tell that my mother didn't approve and I didn't want to hear it. I wanted her to understand that I had grown out of Joey. Like you grew out of a pair of old jeans. Even though they might be comfortable and soft and cozy at some point they were worn out and faded and it was time to let them go. If she couldn't understand that I didn't want to talk to her about it anymore. We ended the conversation cooly and I knew I wasn't going to tell her about my moving in with Sasha. She would just have to find out about it later. It felt strange because I usually loved sharing this kind of stuff with her, but if she was going to get in the way of him and I this was what I had to do.