For the first time in our 8 1/2 month relationship, I can actually "see" a life with Wine Guy. We are half way through our 2 week road trip vacation and my worst fear - that we would fight constantly, break up somewhere in Texas, and I would have to fly home - has not been realized. That's not to say we didn't bicker through most of Texas (when I wasn't sleeping, much to WG's annoyance). But I've heard that anyone in their right mind would want to bite their companion's head off after 400 miles of West Texas landscape.
So why can I "see the future" with Wine Guy? Simple. I met his family. And no, it wasn't this Leave It to Beaver familial scene where everyone is happy and perfect like I always imagined"normal" families were, unlike mine. In fact, his parents were pretty much like he described, when I assumed he was just being a little hard on them. They were by no means terrible. Very sweet in fact and certainly kind and welcoming to me. But let's just say they made me very thankful I have the kind of Mom who you can actually sit down and TALK to about real things besides the weather and how you slept the night before.
But seeing WG with and in contrast to his parents, I am even more impressed with the man he is today. They were good parents who loved their kids and did the best they could. But I was able to see just how much of his character came from his own determination and soul. Yes, his parents instilled those traits in him (if not indirectly), but it was very much up to him to use and develop them -- and he did.
After two days in their small Texas town (and two terribly sleepless nights for me), we all headed into Austin for a larger family gathering at his cousin's palatial home in the 'burbs. Cue up the Christmas music because this is where it does start to get a little "perfect family" hokey. And I ate it up gladly as this was the first real "Christmas" I have ever experienced. The eager kids constantly begging to open their presents and, when they finally get their wish, the frantic, adrenaline-pumping ripfest as countless gifts are freed from their wrapping and shrieks of glee pop up across the littered living room every few minutes. And I was not excluded from this frenzy, as every branch of the family tree included me in their gift giving, which was unexpected and quite sweet. By the time I was finished unwrapping I couldn't help but exclaim, "Forget Jesus, this is awesome! I'm converting!" Thank God they are Christians with a good sense of humor.
We also went to a Christmas Eve candlelight service at a several thousand-seater super-church in town. I was expecting big hair, terrible singing, a lot of preaching and a few heartfelt eye rolls shared between WG and me. But it was actually quite lovely - basically a concert with a little Jesus thrown in. I can handle that. When WG's cousin told me that I was "a good sport" for sitting through it, I responded, "Are you kidding me? I might actually like Christmas now! I can totally respect the religious part, it's the commercial part that kills me!" Again, thank God they are Christians with a a good sense of humor.
As you can probably tell, I was the Jewish comedic relief for the two days we were there. A role I am used to playing having grown up in suburban San Diego where I was basically the only Jew I knew. All in all, they were kind generous hosts and I got the chance to let out my inner adolescent while talking boys, school and movies with WG's 13 year old niece.
Again, why can I now all of a sudden see a real future with Wine Guy? I can't really answer that. I just all of a sudden can. I'm sure part of it is seeing him interact with "his people," and liking what I saw. I also think I enjoyed seeing us as a couple through the eyes of a new group of people. As we interacted together, separately and within the large group, I felt like we just seemed "right" together. We teased each other, added to each others stories, all those things that make a couple good guests. We were a really unit, and I liked how it felt.
Now we are at the home of my good friend from high school and her husband - The Quiets- who also live in Austin. Yes, they are indeed quiet people, or at least when I'm around them I realize how NOT quite I am. Of course, that isn't the case right now since it is 4am and I am having yet another night of insomnia (likely due to my impending surgery which weighs on my mind only in the dead of night ). Our visit with them so far has been great, but I suspect WG and Mr. Quiet are just a little sick of hearing all the high school gossip and chatter. But Mrs. Quiet is one of my oldest and dearest friends and I relish every visit I get with her. Plus I absolutely adore this city and they are fantastic tour guides!
Soon we will hit the road again (hopefully the Northwest Texas landscape will be less fight instigating) and head to Albuquerque to visit WG's sister and brother-in-law. I know I will like his sister from everything I've heard so I am definitely not nervous about meeting her. And she has a dog which is a huge incentive to visit since I am very high on my dog kick at the moment after staying up late at WG's parent's to watch "The Science of Dogs" on National Geographic - a must see!.
I suppose I should try to go back to sleep now so I'll sign off. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday doing whatever it is you do. I will make sure to check in again in 2008 before the big day of surgery on January 7th. Happy New Year!