Thankful.

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.

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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?!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Blending & Meshing

The last few weeks have been amazing, but ridiculously busy.

When I last wrote, I was just getting back from a business trip and preparing myself to meet The Teacher’s parents and attend a wedding as his “plus 1”. I’m happy to report that while I had some minor anxiety going into it, all went well. I wasn’t quite sure really what to expect with his family (dad and step mom). Our conversations about his dad  were never overly specific. He’d mention things about his dad here and there (how he was retired from the military, enjoyed art, liked to cook, prided himself on yard work, was possibly at one point a hippie), but never anything super specific to paint a clear and defined picture of him. I had no idea what he even looked like or if the Teacher even resembled his dear old dad (he did slightly and their mannerisms were similar).  I felt like I needed to go into the situation overly prepared to make a GOOD impression, so in my usual “over the top” manner, I baked for him as a “thank you” for his hospitality.

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Our initial meeting was super abbreviated because we were running late for a rehearsal dinner about twenty minutes away from his dad’s house, but it went well. His dad and step-mom greeted me with open arms and were very appreciative of the baked goods (that I baked during a passing low grade hurricane the night before with flickering power). To my surprise, his dad and step-mom “set BOTH of us up” in his childhood bedroom. While we’re both in our 30s and have technically been dating about 8 months now, have traveled together and we definitely have “sleep overs” a few times a week, it still weirded me out to share a room–a bed with him in his family’s home…next door to his dad and step mom’s room. We later had some of the most mind blowing love making later that night (in said room), but very quietly (not that either one of us is usually loud anyway). That was wildly adventurous, to say the least.

Overall, the wedding and wedding festivities went over well. Many of his college friends were there, so it was nice to meet and hangout with them. They all seemed very welcoming. I also bonded (even more) with his two best friends’ wife and fiancee (now also wife!). It’s been a little while since I’d been to a wedding, but even longer since I’ve gone with an actual date. Like a legit, I’m with this person, date. But it was nice. It seemed like the majority of the guests there (young and old) were either married or in relationships.

During the wedding, The Teacher was fairly affectionate. I wasn’t sure if this was because he was feeling overly sentimental (due to the occasion) or simply because he felt like publicly making it known that we were an item, either way, I enjoyed the attention. We got to slow dance, which typically shouldn’t be that big of a deal, but we’ve never had the opportunity to slow dance (because both of us admit to not being great at dancing), as I mentioned prior to getting on the dance floor. In conversations since, we realized that he thought I said, “I’ve never danced“, instead of what I actually said, “We’ve never danced“. Ha, would have been a bit awkward had I never danced before.

During the times that we danced, it was as if the world around us disappeared and we were in our own little world.

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In keeping with the theme of the weekend it seemed, locking eyes for too long made my heart race a mile a minute, my face flush and butterflies flutter in my stomach with excitement. I felt a similar spark during the rehearsal and wedding while locking eyes with him while the bride and groom said their vows. Since he was part of the groomsmen and facing the audience, it was hard not to look at him, but every time our eyes locked I became a bit overwhelmed with emotion and would eventually look down or away while blushing. He called me out on it later and I made up the excuse that I didn’t want to “distract” him from his groomsmen duties.

I’ll keep it 100 (if the kids still say that now a days), the real reason I kept cutting my eyes after feeling all of warm and fuzzies is because the entire weekend, the entire reason for us even being there was to celebrate the love and union of one of his best friends and his now wife and In addition to the wedding, I was also meeting his family for the first time and many of his dear college friends who he’s very close to. The fact that all of these very important people in his life had been SO loving and accepting of me, just consumed me with emotion (and I tend to not display my emotions on the outside). On top of all of those gooey feelings, I’ve been processing the fact that I do indeed love him. Yes, I said it. I do love him and I have for some time now, I just haven’t said it.

I love him when he gives me forehead kisses while I fall asleep during some random netflix show we’ve (he’s) decided to watch. I love him when he’s being a sleepy head and will still be knocked the fuck out at damn near noon like he’s not a whole ass adult with actual responsibilities, I love him when he’s rambling off random useless trivia, I love him when he speaks passionately about teaching, I love him when he’s grouchy from lack of said sleep (or work), I love him when he’s silly, when he’s happy, when he’s annoyed, when he’s nervous, when he’s afraid, I just love him overall.

Without even realizing it at first, he’s literally everything I’ve ever wanted and didn’t realize I needed. He checks all of the boxes. He’s been nothing but warm and kind and patient with me the entire time we’ve been together, even when I truly didn’t deserve it and was being a fucking idiot. I get a little overwhelmed emotionally when I think about him, our relationship in general and just how much I genuinely care so much about him. Flaws and all. He’s an amazing person and it takes a one of a kind guy to put up with my foolishness.

I guess my hesitation in saying those three little words is that I’ve tried to really take my time with this relationship and truly let it grow organically. It’s so easy to rush into things only to crash and burn before you even know what hit you (Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson, for example). I felt that with my last relationship (the aftermath was so unbelievably painful) and I wanted this one to be truly meaningful and so far it has been. If you had told me a year ago or even 6-8 months ago that I’d be in this situation, I wouldn’t have believed it. While neither one of us has really point blank said those three words I think we’ve both talked around them either through actions or other creative phrases to make it known. Perhaps like me, he’s afraid to take that “leap”. Here is an  example of me talking around the word “Love” from this morning while he was asleep (“Oliver” is my cat, btw–and he likes to climb on both of us in the morning when it’s time for his feeding):

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All in all the wedding weekend and meeting his family went well. His parents seemed to like me and I was able to have several bonding moments with them between all of the chaos of the wedding. His dad even sat down with me and showed me every school photo of him from pre-K through his senior year of high school. It was sweet.

So fast forward to this weekend in the theme of mixing and mingling of friends and family…I finally introduced the Teacher to one of my best friends (that I’ve known since high school and probably knows more about the Teacher than anyone else in my life via our conversations about him). We met over dinner Friday night and both got along really well. The best friend approves of the Teacher, although the first thing he asked him when he met The Teacher was what did he do for a career?

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I also finally introduced him to my parents, which has been a long time coming, since they technically live locally (about 30 miles west). For weeks I had been tossing around the idea of a meeting, but timing never seemed to quite work out because we’ve both been busy being together. I finally opted for brunch today (as the teacher and I usually do brunch anyway after spending a Saturday night together) and my parents and I usually do lunch or dinner or Sundays. Two birds, one stone. During our time together last night, the Teacher admitted to being “mildly nervous” to meet my parents and referenced the entire event as “doing the parent thing”. I guess that’s natural because well, they’re the people that BIRTHED me and making a bad impression on them could potentially not go over well (with me, maybe). I could certainly relate though as I felt the same anxiety the weekend before. I assured him that while I was indeed bat shit crazy (and he probably knows this), they weren’t too shabby.

Brunch went over well and as I expected my parents really like him (especially my mom). They all seemed to get along just dandy and they didn’t embarrass me too bad or maybe now that I’m in my 30s, and don’t care. I think he made a lovely impression on them, especially considering some of the “things” we were doing right before meeting them for brunch 😉 .

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Well,  I don’t think there are any more introductions this week (because the last month has been saturated with them and quite frankly, I think we’re both a bit drained), but we both promised each other to accompany the other for various social obligations and gatherings with friends throughout the week. Should be a fun filled week…

Vacay Get Away

The last couple of weeks have been a weird combination of total cloud-nine bliss and red line stress–very little regular “in between moments”, but I’ll explain.

Things with the home buying are not going as well as planned. Without putting all of my business on front street, I’m really struggling to save money for a down payment due to some unforeseen expenses that have recently come up (most notably with my truck). The expenses of my truck have started to make me seriously weigh the options of getting a new car, but I can’t buy a house and a car at the same time, so I’ve got to determine which expense is more dire. I guess if I can’t get to work, I would eventually not be able to make money, which wouldn’t look so great in terms of buying a home.

In happier news, I just got back from my first vacation with my boyfriend (that still feels weird to say–well, type).

It seems like only yesterday we were just drunkenly tossing around hypothetical scenarios of “getting away”, but surprisingly everything panned out and we didn’t end up killing each other in the process.

We opted for a weekend in the mountains because we both prefer mountains over the beach and because he felt a burning desire to visit his Alma mater after a decade of graduating just for nostalgia’s sake and wanted me along for the ride.

Our trip initially started off a little shaky due to some unforeseen issues with my suv (which we had planned on using for the trip), but we effortlessly switched gears and took his 4 cyl, rear wheel drive car instead (which fucking struggled up those damn mountains). In addition to my suv being a royal pain in the ass and dying, we also ended up facing a great deal of rain our first night away. Since he booked an AirBnb on the edge of town (on top of a mountain), we opted to stock up on snacks at the local grocery store and barricade ourselves in for the evening, into the following afternoon. We spent practically the first 24 hrs as you would expect any couple with tons of freedom, privacy and downtime to do. Yep.

I will go on record and say that while I was opting for more of a spontaneous and open-minded attitude this weekend (for myself), I don’t think I’m a huge fan of shower sharing (which, I’ve avoided doing in previous relationships).

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While wildly romantic-in-the-moment-fun, logistically speaking it’s messy, distracting and cuts into my alone time to process all of my internal chaos. I prefer to have those few moments of peace to myself.

The majority of our trip lacked a specific itinerary (mostly because we’re both equally lazy and equally laid back and agreeable), but I did make it known that a good friend of mine from graduate school lived in the area and I would feel guilty if I didn’t make it a point to catch up while we were in town. I figured it wouldn’t be a huge deal, as The Teacher has met about ten of my friends in the past week, what’s one more right? We’re on a roll here…I’m finally integrating him into my social circles and he seems to fit in well.

Ha. From the moment I even introduced the idea he seemed uncharacteristically indifferent and shamelessly critical (once I mentioned feeling guilty about not visiting my old pal) to say it didn’t seem like my “pal” had really made that big of an effort to visit me either so my guilt wasn’t even truly justified.

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WELP.

To further add fuel to the fire, he intentionally initiated a wildly intense and passionate session nearly an hour before we planned to link up with my friend, causing us to be flustered, messy haired, wrinkle clothed and half an hour late. I blamed it on getting lost.

Anyway, lunch ended up going mostly off without any drama, though I could feel the tension between the two of them the entire time. Oddly enough they’re both very similar (both teach, both have the same interests, both grew up in the same area, etc). I’ve always felt like my old grad school buddy had a “thing” for me, even if a very *small* and *innocent* thing and I think the Teacher (without me even directly pointing that out), could pick up on that energy and was not here for ANY. OF. IT. Outside of the obligatory lunch, The Teacher managed to surpass my expectations in meeting about ten of my friends over the course of two separate social gatherings in the past week. The friends of mine that he’s met so far seem to think highly of him.

After the obligatory lunch, we had the rest of the weekend to ourselves and mostly meandered around his old college campus and the neighboring downtown before grabbing some beers at a local brewery and opting to pick up take out to eat in. Our vacation together included a lot of down time, which I appreciated, because my life has been so busy lately. It was nice to not have to go anywhere or do anything at a specific or set time. We also had very shitty reception, so it forced me to unplug. If we felt like laying in bed and eating Thai food while watching netflix, that’s what we did. If we felt like showering at 2 in the morning and then playing a board game while eating rock candy, that’s what we did. If we felt like sitting on our porch watching a rainstorm while cuddled up and talking for hours, that’s what we did and it was fun.

I think traveling with someone really shows you a more three dimensional version of who they truly are because you’re around each other for long periods of time (or in our case a straight 72 hours–maybe minus a collective 30-40 minutes for combined bathroom breaks over the course of those 72 hours). I’ve found that this can be both a good and bad experience, but this particular experience (minus his indifference about my old college buddy), was wonderful. I truly enjoyed spending those moments with him.

Some things I learned about him while on this trip

  • He has the sleeping habits of a bat
  • He needs at least one “lay in the bed” nap a day (and is very serious about this)
  • He refuses to drink “off brand” bottled water
  • He’s not big on eating breakfast (neither am I–so we skipped it mostly)
  • He likes to read for at least an hour before bed
  • He’s not crazy about driving long distances (or up mountains in the rain)
  • He packs relatively light
  • He doesn’t like nature or woodland creatures
  • He claims that the army taught him to how to hide that he’s “somewhat ticklish”
  • He’s not here for someone crushing on his girlfriend–AT. ALL.
  • He likes to use my conditioner in the shower
  • He apparently spent a lot of time in college missing classes due to sleeping
  • He very rarely smiles normally in photos. He prefers to be goofy

Well, one trip down, hopefully more adventures to come.