I can’t believe it’s time for hometown dates already! I know it may seem like it’s just the fifth episode – too early to meet the girls’ families – but keep in mind, I’ve spent a lot more time with them in the first month-and-a-half of shooting than you actually see in each episode. That’s why I felt confident enough to make my way across Canada to meet four completely different families. Personally, I would never feel comfortable enough going into anyone’s home had I not been given adequate time to get to know someone. I expected that bringing me home to meet their parents had to mean as much to the girls as it did to me! Was I comfortable with where I was in the process? Yes. Was I terrified? Absolutely!
First off was Bianka’s hometown of Mississauga, a place I used to live while I played with the Toronto Argonauts. I was excited to see her family but I was so nervous because Bianka made such a big deal about not being ready to bring me home. I wasn’t totally convinced she wanted me there. That was until I saw her. Right away, she made me feel so comfortable. We stopped at her hometown ice cream parlour and discovered we both loved mint chocolate chip! We had a great talk, but my comfort level was completely diminished when she told me her parents only speak Croatian.
This seemed like a no-win situation. As we walked into B’s living room, my fears were realized. It was all Croatian off the bat! For two solid minutes I felt like the outsider who was sweating through his shirt. Then the ice was broken: “We do speak English!” They were just messing with me. At that point, I knew we were going to get along! Bo, Steve, Daniel, and Anne are great people! They made me feel welcome and are so down to earth. Steve reminds me a lot of my dad, always joking around and very comfortable to be around from the get-go. Bo is a sweetheart, and you can tell her daughter means everything to her. With a great Croatian dinner and a lot of laughs, Bianka decided it was a hit. And as for me, I could see myself spending more Sundays with her and her family.
Then, it was Kara’s turn. I knew I was going to immediately feel comfortable once I saw her. She has a calming influence and a go-with-the flow personality. Meeting on Granville Island in the rain was a very cute way of starting our date. “It’s very Vancouver,” Kara insisted! The surprise of getting a tour of the area on her uncle’s boat was even better! Seeing English Bay that way was incredible. And getting to talk to Kara made me realize even more just how comfortable I am with her. It was effortless! She automatically makes people feel at ease. And that’s the best way to be before going into an unknown environment!
When we got to her house, Kara was visibly upset by the lack of her father’s presence, but she understands that sometimes life gets in the way. Meeting her family was great. And the smell coming from the kitchen was amazing! It was all set up to be a great dinner, and then when her father made a surprise entrance, her family felt complete. During the delicious dinner her family let me be me! I was constantly joking, and trying to make everyone laugh. By the end of the night, it basically turned into a party! I didn’t want to leave. I felt like I was already a part of the family! And that was the best feeling to have after only a short while. It’s a daunting task to go into a family’s home for eight hours, be nervous, and try to make the best impression. But so far…so good!
Next up was Gabby’s hometown date in Oakville. I was really excited to get to spend more quality time with her. Over the last month we had really come a long way. She started off as a very outgoing person around me, but ever since Mexico, she started to emerge as this amazingly sweet person too. Around me, she was open and honest, while always maintaining a straight-forward, no-nonsense attitude, which made it even more surprising that she took me to a senior’s recreation centre on our date. As soon as we sat down to play bingo, I think she was surprised by my reaction. I’ve always had the ability to relate to any age group based on my sense of humour. And by the end of that bingo game, I had Gabby’s friends rolling. It was so much fun, and besides that, just great to see her interact with the seniors. But I was about to step into a home with a serious amount of family members, and I could tell Gabby was nervous.
Entering her house was crazy! There were so many people, and so many big personalities. I had to try and hold my ground. But once again, after about 30 minutes, everything was cool and calm. We told “our” story about how we had gotten to this point, and after that, everyone was so excited to eat what appeared to be the biggest feast to date. My plate was loaded three times! And trying to be as polite as I could, I ate every last bite. It was delicious, but I don’t think I have ever been that full. What’s the best way to work off a food baby? Belly dancing! Oh man, watching that back, I looked like my father with two left feet. But when in doubt, have fun with it…and I did. Meeting Gabby’s family was amazing and everyone was so welcoming. It was only fitting to give her cousin Paris a goodbye kiss on the cheek!
As always, I was excited to see Whitney. But I was hoping that instead of just her intense interactions, she would finally verbalize what she was feeling. I was also excited to see where she came from. But I was absolutely terrified knowing she was setting this date up. What was she going to put me through? I could only imagine! So, as we’re driving up to our date she says, “ski jumps!” Worst case scenario. She knew that I just finished facing my biggest fear on our last date, and told her that I never wanted to do something like that again. I was sweating through my shirt! Finally, she told me that we were bobsledding instead. That, I could do! And it was one of the craziest things I’ve ever done!
After that, Whit was noticeably quiet while we were driving over to meet her parents and sister. I could really see her nerves, and as soon as we got into her house, I could see how emotional she was. Her mother was such a sweetheart, and her dad was such a cool guy! When I was talking to him outside, I really saw how expressive he was. That’s why sitting down at dinner was such a different experience for me. Whit comes from a family that speaks so eloquently, but she couldn’t even verbalize her emotions to me, a guy who her dad just finished saying makes her feel and look a way he’s never seen before. I felt like there was something going on with her. And even though I was having an amazing time, as I left her house, I realized I needed to ask her something before we got any further in this journey. And I needed the answer in words. Not actions.
When I pulled Whit away at the rose ceremony, I flat out asked her if she could be emotionally open with me. When she said that she knew that she could, it was clear to me that I needed to give her more time.
It was hard to say goodbye to Gabby. She had come such a long way, but in the end, my connections with the other girls were stronger. With just Bianka, Kara and Whitney left, I knew I had great girls left. And I knew one of those girls was for me!
Till next week,