“People can be animals,” she said. We’d never had the talk about the birds and the bees, unlike my boyfriend, whose mother had given him a book in elementary school on such matters.

I tried not to laugh.

“Tell her that her daughter can be the animal,” my boyfriend said mischievously in the background.

“I’ll do the right thing,” I told her, and left it at that.

Not only was I dating someone who made me laugh and believed in me and my dreams, who accepted my quirks and my family’s, I was learning how to share more of myself to my parents. Around them, I finally could be whole, Chinese and American.

The following autumn, I ran the Portland Marathon, my first. I’d been training all summer, logging in miles before and after work and on weekends. After driving to different spots on the course to cheer me on, he met at Mile 20, with a bag of gummy bears, and we ran the rest of the way together. In the final stretch, he carried on a one-sided conversation, keeping me going when I no longer had the strength to talk.

That day, I realized that he would always be there for me, by my side, but my parents weren’t as sure.

We like him, my mother said. “But maybe you should see other people.”

They’d waited a year, expecting our imminent engagement. My boyfriend and I were in our late 20s, having fun, and we still had time. I didn’t want to set a deadline.