Not only does Steven make me laugh but he's a brat; a jokester....it is, later, funny, but a source of stress as I'm so gullible that I fall right into his trap. Apparently, family is not immune.
We decided to get together on Thursday, giving me a few days to get back into work mode - I've really been dropping the ball and lacking ALL ability to stay focused E...get out of lala land! - when he drops the bomb on my Wednesday night via phone that he invited his brother, sister-in-law and their two kids over for dinner. sigh...okay...this is a logical step in our relationship. We're moving forward and he wants me to be part of his life, instead of on the sidelines, like past flirts! Right after that he tells me that there's a family function Sunday afternoon to celebrate his youngest brother's engagement.
E: "Oh, that's great. It's nice your family lives so close to one another."
S: "Yeah, it is, so keep your Sunday open."
E: "Why?" snarking on the other end of the phone
E: "Oh, was there something you wanted to ask me?"
S: Catching on and laughing "Uhm, yeah, would you please come with me Sunday and meet my family."
E: "Uuuuhhhhhhmmmmmmm.....okay." We both laugh.
Thursday night, Steven came to pick me up and he announced we're going to the store. I ask what he's planning to cook and, to no one's surprise, he says "My spaghetti!" yuck "We should get some other ingredients to spice it up a bit." "Okay." We hit Trader Joe's and pick up some ground turkey, mushrooms, pepper, onion, bread, Parmesan and head back to his house. I, of course, am left to cook, because apparently he doesn't know how to cook ground meat, let alone cut an onion, which I did end up showing him because I was starting to cry. In the end, it was a good thing I was cooking because I was nervous and had idle hands.
His family showed up about a half hour late - that's fine...concentrate on the cooking. His brother was first to come in and was on the phone. He gave a half "hello" and walked back into the living/dining area. Then his niece walked in and out. Then his nephew walked in and out. I went back to work. They all soon made their way into the kitchen where Steven introduced me as his "roommate". What the? Uhm....What do I do, joker? Call you out or roll with it? I chose to roll with it because I know they came to meet me. His brother and wife were nice, but I could feel some apprehension. We had them going for about an hour before he told them the truth. After that, his brother became super friendly and his sister-in-law, while she had her moments of warmth, seemed reserved towards me.
Finally, dinner was ready and served. We sat and talked at the table, his brother asking me most of the questions. I played finger Twister with the kids for awhile and it was time for them to head home. I was left feeling "eh" about the whole thing.
The next day we texted and I asked if I'd passed Test 1. He said "test passed" and we made plans for the night. Now, my mind is whirling about Sunday....you know, it's been a LONG time since I've been in this place. Maybe 15 years and even then I didn't know what a relationship could really be. I've come to realize after my abuser, that most of my relationships were incredibly superficial and it was me who refused to open up and develop it into something more. Well, that isn't a problem these days.
Friday and Saturday came and went. We were together most of it including Saturday night through Monday morning, and I was working on little sleep. I just can't sleep with him. Sometimes I'm fine and then wake up, my mind spinning. I just can't shut it off sometimes....I'm just a little weighed down. Weighed down with stress that I'll screw things up with him, how I'm feeling, what I need to do for me, that I've been spending so much time with him that I'm dropping the ball in my own life. It will make you CRAZY!
So, Sunday I'm working on about three hours of sleep and tried taking a small nap on his couch late early afternoon. Before I know it it's time to head to my house, shower, change and get ready to meet his family.
It was a casual dinner to celebrate the engagement of Steven's youngest brother. Going in, I knew that I would be of interest to everyone, but I didn't want to steal the thunder from the happy couple. I walked in and was slowly introduced to everyone - father, step-mother, youngest brother and fiancee, and of course I already knew his older brother, wife and kids. Now, Steven had prepared me for the fact that the guys in his family are jokesters, but I didn't really know what that meant until I was there, talking to his dad.
D: "So, how did you lose the lottery and get this one?"
E: "I picked the wrong numbers." Everyone laughs.
It went on, pretty much like that for the evening. While I tried to have fun and be myself, I also sat back. The women were all a bit cautious and I could feel their trepidation. Either because they are Puerto Rican, a tight-knit community, or because they've seen some women come through that door and figure I'm just another one. Who knows, but the air was thick as mud and I just waded my way through it. Steven was great, though. Never once did he hesitate to kiss me in front of them, rub my back or hold my hand.
The dinner was a Smorgasbord, and being Swedish I can appreciate it. His sister-in-law made lasagna, yummy baked chicken so tender and juicy, and red beans and rice - the best I've ever had. It simply melted in my mouth. After wards, we enjoyed a the best, most moist and yummy German chocolate cake EVER! It's like crack. I was so full from the meal, but I couldn't stop eating the crack cake.
As his sister-in-law began to clean up, I jumped out of my seat and into the kitchen to ask if I could help her. "No, not really, but you can pick the dishes from the table." "Great." I walked back to the table and began picking up several plates, handling them like the expert waitress I once was, turned and headed back to the kitchen. From behind me I hear his father say "Good work, Steve, you gotta make sure you train them early." I stop, glance back at the "boys" at the table and say "Oh, I so heard that." They all cracked up.
The rest of the evening was spent talking and watching the kids play Wii. At one point, his brother started saying something like "Oh, I thought you were talking about Steve's ex...uhm friend." I caught it and chuckled to myself. With a full stomach and little sleep I was starting to crash - Food Coma times 10 - and we soon headed out. Hugs were given all around, except from the incoming sister-in-law, slightly awkward, but good, and we headed home.
I walked away feeling that the nerves kept me from truly being myself, but also that I was sensitive to the fact that the dinner was not about meeting me, but celebrating his brother's engagement. I was ribbed and ribbed back; I held my own. It was fun, warm. The one thing that I really like about the Latins is that they are close; they put family first. His is so different from mine. We have fun, but we're reserved. You have to be careful of how much fun you poke because eventually someone will take something personally, and the entire mood is deflated. I have three members of my family that make everything all about them, and my mother and I have accepted that we just have to take their shit sometimes. His family was comfortable, fun and loving. It was nice.
Once in the car, my curiosity couldn't take it any longer:
E: "So what do you think they're saying right now?"
S: "Rude, unattractive, not funny or nice...." laughing
E: "I'm serious."
S: "You're good."