Well, I’m happy to report that I made it through all of the anxiety ridden Thanksgiving festivities this year. When I last wrote, I was gearing up to spend the holiday with the Teacher’s family (I previously met his father and step mother, but would be meeting several other extended family members and his actual MOM). To say I was a wee bit nervous was a bit of an understatement!
Let’s start from the beginning…
Before even heading out-of-town to visit his family, we (well I) made dinner plans with two of my best friends from high school. The Teacher had previously met one of my best friends (that lives locally) the same weekend he met my parents, but hadn’t yet met the other BFF, who lives out-of-state. When I found out this friend of mine would be in town, I jumped on the opportunity to introduce him to the Teacher. It’s been important to me lately to introduce The Teacher to every important person in my life so that he gets an even better idea of who I am and what the people who matter to me the most are like. Of course, by this point, anyone who I’m relatively in consistent contact with has either met the Teacher or at least knows who he is (and that he exists).
Dinner went over well as I thought it would. He seemed to get along effortlessly with two of my OTHER favorite people, which made my heart smile. I remember sitting back quietly observing the three of them (all guys) having a conversation like they’d known each other for years and it just made me warm and fuzzy inside. They all genuinely seemed to have a good time and it was great (later) to hear (from them) that they liked the Teacher and it was great to also hear that the Teacher genuinely like them as well.
The following day we were off to his childhood home for Thanksgiving. While I wasn’t entirely nervous to see his father and step mother (since I just met them last month), I was a bit nervous to meet his mom. Throughout the entire time we’ve dated, the Teacher hasn’t said a great deal about his mom, outside of the fact that she was significantly younger than his dad and at times seemed to struggle with being “independent”. It was hard to visualize this woman who gave birth to this wonderful man. Was she a good person?? Would she accept me? What all did she know about me?
I remember at one point semi early on in dating one another (I think when we were more casually dating–but still seeing each other frequently enough for things to be “going somewhere”), having a conversation where he admitted to alluding to his family that he was “dating someone”, but failed to really provide a great deal of specifics outside of that (I’m starting to notice a pattern with the Teacher’s lack of details/substance in his description of the people in his life lol). That’s fair and I remember not being offended by his comment. I was actually relieved that he hadn’t said much about me. At the time, I doubt I had said much about him (if anything) specifically either. I guess we’re both guarded in that way and choose to keep our “love life” private until we feel it’s serious and stable enough to include the other people in our life. Of course now we’re in the “free fall” stage of literally meeting every friend, family member/loved one, neighbor, co-worker, pet, etc in the other person’s life….yeah, that’s been uh…eventful to say the least, but mostly great.
Anyway, on the ride down to meet mom, he explained to me that his mom was a “good person” and was “very nice”, but paused and frowned a bit when describing her now fiancée. Let’s call him Bill.
I have to be transparent in saying this though…Bill seems to be a nice guy, but he’s very…how to do I put it? Conservative? Southern…old? A little set in his ways…possibly a Trump supporter? He *may* say something stupid in those regards…
So…indirectly what he was trying to say is that Bill possibly had some “deep-rooted” backwoods racism brewing and the idea of his step son–who he probably already doesn’t quite ‘understand’ bringing home his black girlfriend would probably be enough to send him to glory on this fine holiday?!
Check. My heart sank a bit when he said this, even after he told me his mom was absolutely not that way (even went as far to say that his mom was very liberal–how that even works, I’m not sure). My nervousness swiftly changed to internal rage coupled with activated defensiveness on justifying who I was as a person.
The plan was to meet the mom at the movie theater and then dinner after, because apparently that’s what the Teacher and his mom do whenever they get together. How was I supposed to make a good impression in the dark? When we walked into the lobby, I nervously trailed behind him as he strolled up to who I assumed was his mom and Bill and the introductions began. His mom seemed genuinely happy to meet me, but perhaps also nervous? Bill didn’t say much, but smiled and shook my hand (probably thinking in his mind, “I don’t like black people, but I’m trying to be on my best behavior for my soon to be wife”). Shortly after the introductions we took our seats in the theater. We were there to see: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, which in my personal opinion was all over the fucking place plot wise, but then again I wasn’t the BIGGEST fan of the first one, so who am I to really comment?
Dinner followed the confusion of the movie and by this point my nervousness (and defensiveness) had semi worn off and my hunger kicked into high gear. It was going on 8 o clock and the Teacher and I hadn’t even had anything to eat that day! WTF?! His mom opted for a Thai restaurant where we dined on spring rolls, Pad Thai and plum wine. Speaking of wine, I gifted his mom with a bottle of her favorite wine after The Teacher let it slip out that his mom recently had a birthday AND what her favorite wine was. Brownie points!
Throughout the dinner, his mom seemed to keep a steady conversation. She didn’t grill me on anything and naturally let me elaborate on things in my life as I felt up to it. Of course, she did the mom thing and told embarrassing stories about him and how she “owed” me “naked baby photos” of him the next time I was in town, since The Teacher told his mom how my mom the previous weekend (while having him over for dinner) showed him all of MY baby photos! There was one moment where the Teacher got up to use the bathroom and his mom shared with me how much he had spoken about me (to her) for months and how she was very eager to meet this “lovely lady” in his life.
After dinner we ventured back to his dad’s house for the evening to retire to bed before having to be up bright and early to great the rest of his extended family for Thanksgiving. In my mind, I felt like things would be ok meeting wise, but for some reason after laying down for bed I started to get fairly anxious and had a full-blown anxiety attack while laying in bed. I haven’t had an actual full-blown “I feel like I’m having a heart attack,” anxiety attack in several months. My body temperature climbed quickly, my heart was racing–almost beating out of my chest and I couldn’t breathe. Luckily, The Teacher (who was laying beside me during all of this) managed to help me through it and assure me that things would be fine with his family the following day. He stayed calm, held me in his arms and kept speaking in a really calm and empathetic voice. He stayed up with me for a good two hours before I relaxed enough to attempt to go to sleep. While I was partially embarrassed for him to see me in such a vulnerable state, it was good to have him there as comfort as well.
The following day went better than expected. His grandfather, aunt and cousin all arrived promptly at noon and we had a few hours of wine and cheese nibbling before dinner. I had a chance to casually speak to his aunt, grandfather and cousin, which was nice. I especially enjoyed speaking to his grandfather, who seemed to share a similar sense of humor with The Teacher’s father and The Teacher! Now I see where his goofy nature comes from.
Dinner-food wise was interesting, and here’s where our cultural differences stood out, big time. Thanksgiving for my family has traditionally been: Turkey (maybe also a ham depending upon who decides to host), BAKED mac and cheese (the baked part is important), green bean casserole and/or greens, sweet potato casserole, HOME MADE cranberry relish (NOT the stuff out of the can), stuffing, some sort of roll and an assortment of pies (maybe cakes if someone brings one).
The Teacher’s family had the following: Turkey w/ gravy, mashed potatoes (also with gravy), I can’t remember the green veggie (maybe green beans?), carrots, mashed rutabaga?, cornbread pudding? something else that was tan/neutral color?, cranberry sauce in the SHAPE of the can And two pies: pumpkin and pecan. It wasn’t bad, just an adjustment from what my family usually has. I didn’t ask for seconds.
After dinner, The Teacher got a call from his sister, who lives across the country on the west coast. From my understanding, she isn’t necessarily “estranged” from the family, just never makes it out to visit (though she does keep in touch). Somewhere along the conversation he told her how he brought along his “girl pal” to “meet the fam” and then went into some ten minute ramble about how great things had been and how happy he was (d’aww). Of course, he probably knew I could HEAR him (since I was sitting right beside of him during all of this) and eventually told me his sister said, “hello”. Like his mom, he hasn’t said a great deal about his sister (aside from what I’ve said before), though his mom did share that they were relatively close (as siblings) growing up and even shared some of the same friends (as they’re about a year and a few months apart in age).
Later on that evening after the extended family left and his dad and step mom retired to bed, we spent a few moments to ourselves goofing around and watching netflix before bed. It felt like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I had done it. I managed not to completely fuck up meeting his family and to celebrate, we managed to have relatively quiet love-making much later on that night. Now, the first time this happened, it caught me by surprise because I just assumed none of that would go down out of respect for his parents, but to be honest, there’s something wildly intoxicating about it (and to his credit, he did ASK if I felt comfortable considering the environment we were in this time before proceeding). Maybe it’s the fact that we could potentially be caught with our pants down (literally) or who knows, maybe his parents know and because we’re in our 30s, they don’t care? I’m not sure if I’d be so willing to try that in my parent’s house though. Not that they’re super strict or anything, but they’re both very light sleepers.
We left to head back home the following afternoon, but not before The Teacher took me on a nice romantic walk around the water front across the street from his dad’s place.
On our walk, he told me more about growing up in the area and even pointed to a few houses where friends of his in the neighborhood used to live.
I have to admit that when I agreed to join the Teacher for Thanksgiving, I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting myself into, but to my surprise, everything seemed to be fine, or at least as fine has they could have been considering. His family seems mostly accepting of me, which put some of my anxiety to rest. This Thanksgiving was definitely better than last year’s.
Next on the agenda is figuring out Christmas. The Teacher has already started to coordinate when/how we plan on linking up all while attempting to spend an appropriate amount of time with our own families. Luckily, my grandfather lives about twenty minutes away from his dad’s place and that’s where my family typically spends Christmas day, so maybe something with work out with that. We’ll see.